Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review

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Hannibal942:
And this pretty much kills it for me. Grinding is the reason I dropped MMO's, so if this game is guilty of that, I think I'll pass. On another note, is grinding really that common in jrpg's? I've never played one, so I have no idea they were considered to be a common element.

Yes grinding is an unfortunate staple of JRPGs, however, you can get through most of them just by killing everything in your path, so it doesn't feel monotonous, in most jrpgs you won't run into unforgivable bosses as long as you don't regularly run from combat.

I will say the grinding in jrpgs IS NOT AS BAD as the grinding in MMO's, because mmos feature hack and slash battle systems that aren't even really interesting to watch, let alone play for hours on end. Jrpgs at least give you some rock, paper, scissors strategy to it. In your case, you may want to give the game a rent. Since you've never before played a jrpg, you might not even notice the common character tropes and mechanics that drive genre veterans up the wall.

Kahani:

Susan Arendt:
a thankless slog that kills your momentum.

every worn-out JRPG trope

excessive grinding, slow pace, idiotic heroes

insurmountable frustration

a giant middle finger thrust in your direction

there's a lot of "eventually" in this game

finger-twistingly complicated and unfun.

AI is just as dumb

never becomes satisfying enough to make you look forward to it.

story is pretty thin

crushingly slow pace

positively glacial

lacks in finesse

extremely frustrating

extraneous grinding, slow pacing, and shockingly stupid heroes

I can't stand the game

3.5/5

And this is why it's not possible to take game ratings seriously. If a slow, boring, stupid, un-fun game that the review explicitly says they can't stand gets 70%, what the hell could ever get less than that? The whole system is meaningless because the bottom 2/3 of the scale simply isn't used.

I notice you skipped over the "guilty pleasure," the part about how you can easily lose yourself in the game for hours, and the entire paragraph about how beautiful it is and the wonderful soundtrack.

Also, "I can't stand this game" is a personal statement. And while it's true for me, that doesn't mean that the game is necessarily bad. I like plenty of bad games and dislike plenty of good ones.

I'm gonna say that I have to agree with Susan on this one whole-heatedly.

There are so many things wrong with this game, and it makes me quite sad. My main problem is probably with the story. I was hoping for a gripping tale a long the lines of Princess Mononoke. A story where conflict and battle are at the heart of the tale. Or given that the main character is a kid I would have also been fine with something more a long the lines of Spirited Away. A story that is about exploring relationships and growth while building an incredibly fun world. While I haven't finished the game yet (only about 8 hours in so far) the story strikes me more as a mindless rehash of the bare essentials of the Hero's Journey. Also the moment they mentioned "Prophecy" and "Chosen/Pure-Hearted" Oliver I buckled in and prepared for the worst.

The combat system isn't to terribly bad so far. I haven't gotten added characters yet though so I'm not quite sure how that will play out. I don't mind the zwonky difficulty curve as much, the part that really gets me though is the endless grind and the boredom of mashing the "Attack" command over and over in the easier battles. Grind and Basic Attacks are two of the things that always turn me off when it comes to JRPG's.

As much as I hate it though, I keep picking it up for some reason. Part of me just keeps hoping it will get better. Part of me just wants to finish it out of spite. And part of me actually looks forward to playing it. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't familiar with JRPGs though.

the forum poster is refering to Susan Arendt...

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Let's see, boring grindfest of a JRPG that takes a popular anime style and puts it to game, released on a system I don't own nor would give two fucks to buy?

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Snownine:

Xiado:
>Random encounters
>Turn based battles

Final fantasy got rid of turn based battles more than 20 years ago, not that the genre has expunged them but they're an ancient concept. Random encounters are even worse, a way to make up for a lack of hardware power on early consoles that got crystallized as a genre convention because of tradition and nostalgia. Both of them detract from an RPG experience and neither belong in the game.

The main series Final Fantasy games used turn based battles all the way through Final Fantasy X-2 which came out in 2003, hardly 20 years ago. Also it is a matter of taste, some people like turn based combat and some people like random encounters. Some even like both.

Final Fantasy IV, published in the early 90's, introduced the ATB system, which was similar to turn based combat but was not a traditional turn based game. Final Fantasy X returned to modified turn based combat after six games of ATB. And as to random encounters, some people like being hit on the head with a baseball bat and some like paying taxes, but that doesn't make the qualities of either more appealing or acceptable.

Susan Arendt:
snip

I would just like to say, despite your review (although I don't think it was bad by any means!), that I'll still be playing the game, but I thank you for writing an honest review and talking to us in this comment section. It would be easy to just post a review and ignore the community, but you don't because your awesome like that.

So thank you Susan for being so awesome and working so hard for this community.
I don't feel you all hear that enough.

Xiado:

Snownine:

Xiado:
>Random encounters
>Turn based battles

Final fantasy got rid of turn based battles more than 20 years ago, not that the genre has expunged them but they're an ancient concept. Random encounters are even worse, a way to make up for a lack of hardware power on early consoles that got crystallized as a genre convention because of tradition and nostalgia. Both of them detract from an RPG experience and neither belong in the game.

The main series Final Fantasy games used turn based battles all the way through Final Fantasy X-2 which came out in 2003, hardly 20 years ago. Also it is a matter of taste, some people like turn based combat and some people like random encounters. Some even like both.

Final Fantasy IV, published in the early 90's, introduced the ATB system, which was similar to turn based combat but was not a traditional turn based game. Final Fantasy X returned to modified turn based combat after six games of ATB. And as to random encounters, some people like being hit on the head with a baseball bat and some like paying taxes, but that doesn't make the qualities of either more appealing or acceptable.

I always thought the ATB just counted as a modified version of turn based combat, that is how I always thought of it. But I will concede the point as it is different. On the other point though just because you do not like a gameplay mechanic does not mean that it is objectively bad or unacceptable.

Eclipse Dragon:

Susan Arendt:
snip

I would just like to say, despite your review (although I don't think it was bad by any means!), that I'll still be playing the game, but I thank you for writing an honest review and talking to us in this comment section. It would be easy to just post a review and ignore the community, but you don't because your awesome like that.

So thank you Susan for being so awesome and working so hard for this community.
I don't feel you all hear that enough.

Very kind of you to say, thanks. I hope you enjoy the game, I really do. I have no problem with people having different opinions or experiences than I do - discussing those differences is how we expand our point of view about what games are and can be. Besides, I never want someone to *not* have fun.

Take an enormous shit all over the gameplay and story for valid albeit harsh reasons, still give the game 3 and a half stars?

Kinda sending mixed messages there.

I mean, I was taken aback by the harsh tone since everyone's been raving about this game, honestly the extreme negativity was rather refreshing and helped me to gain a better understanding of what the game is like. It's the end score that doesn't seem to sync with your words, but whatever, arbitrary rating scale has always been arbitrary. Your words convey enough without a pointless number attached to them.

I'm still inclined to give the DS version a try since I don't own a PS3.

AldUK:

PedroSteckecilo:
You guys do know that Ghibli collaborated on a game before right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Cocoon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Cocoon_2

Which were also only alright for the most part, so really Ghibli being "in" on the game isn't a guarantee of its quality.

Jade Cocoon 2 was awful and a complete waste of time. The first Jade Cocoon was a masterpiece that I have played countless times and love to bits. Mileage may vary.

Kaulen Fuhs:

AldUK:
Can we also assume that people are allowed different opinions without being shot down? I wasn't saying you are wrong, I was merely stating my own opinion based on what I have seen of the game.

Of course! But that isn't theonly thing you did. You stated that a series of conditions being met would result in a known quantity. Ms. Arendt simply noted that it may not be as simple as that.

I listed certain 'conditions' which I personally believe would contribute to a person's enjoyment of a game, along the lines of; "if you like this, you may also like this." If people don't agree with me, that's totally their choice. Again, opinions.

I don't know that you have what an opinin is quite nailed down, but it doesn't seem like you're terribly interested in continuing, so I'll drop the issue.

Oh, I made up my mind looong before reading Susan's review.
Had ago at the demo, that was enough to convince me to not buy it on Day One.

I'll wait for Tales Of Xillia, thanks.

What the heck is this score?! It's an outrage, does the reviewer eve...

*looks and sees Susan's name

Huh. Oh, uhm, good review.

Carry on then.

d->_<-b

Furrama:
That's like having a game who's selling point is " KITTENS!!!" and the reviewer hates kittens. And all they talk about is how bad the kittens are. So... are they ugly kittens or cute ones? Because I came for the kittens.

It sounds like you're saying grinding is a selling point for Ni No Kuni... I highly doubt that, and I don't think I've ever seen any game advertise *grinding* as a selling point. Sure, you can expect some amount of grind in JRPGs, but being a genre trope doesn't excuse it from criticism or account in review score.

For everyone complaining about the review score/scoring system, here's my interpretation:
In a lot of schools, a 70% is a bare minimum C, which is mediocre work that fulfills its purpose but doesn't have many good qualities. Or it basically meets requirements but either doesn't have a lot of good or outstanding features or is held back by various problems (in this case, grind/pacing, for example). A 60% (3 stars or below) would be barely passing, meeting requirements of, for example, being a functional game with all features and some issues, but still fully functional.
Anything less indicates varying degrees of failure: A 0 would be where the game won't even play, various things between 0 and 60 indicate the game's unplayable, etc. In a lot of schools (on a 10 point scale), a 60 is passing by the skin of your teeth, and anything less is some amount of failure.
70~79 would be average, like an English paper that covers its topic but doesn't do a great job arguing its point but doesn't have a lot of problems. Similarly, a game would be functional and work but not do anything particularly well- alternatively, it could do a few things well, but have plenty of bugs or other drawbacks counterbalancing them.
80~89 would represent a pretty well written paper that argues its point to a good degree and doesn't have too many errors, like a video game that plays fairly well and has several good qualities (great sound, graphics, gameplay, whatever), but isn't exceptional in all of its qualities (think: breaking a game review down into sound, graphics, gameplay, story, etc., and not doing excellent in all, but good/great in most), or is exceptional in a few but has a few shortcomings/bugs.
90+ would mean a paper that argues its point well and is almost free of spelling/grammatical errors; a game that excels in most departments and has few flaws/shortcomings.
Most games, I think, would at least be functional (thus worthy of a "D", or 3 stars-ish) in most departments without too many glitches/flaws/shortcomings. Probably too many games wind up with 80+~90+ based on what I've seen on metacritic and other places, but if most publishers are putting out *functional* games with at least a moderate grasp on gameplay and storytelling, you can expect most reviews to be at least a 3, thus why you don't see too many things on the trash end of the spectrum (would you really consider buying a game if you believed it was only worth a 0, 1, or 2 stars? What about 3?)
Anyway, that's my take on review scores... Hope that helps make the ratings make more sense.

OT: For anyone that's played the game, how long have you spent grinding (~# of hours, please) or how much time have you spent period, and about how far through the game are you (20%, 50%, 80%)?. For example, I'm about 90% of the way through Demon's Souls and have spent 30 hours. I ask because I'm debating again whether it's worth picking up now or waiting, and I'd really like to have an idea of how long the game will take/how quickly it will progress.

Kahani:
And this is why it's not possible to take game ratings seriously. If a slow, boring, stupid, un-fun game that the review explicitly says they can't stand gets 70%, what the hell could ever get less than that? The whole system is meaningless because the bottom 2/3 of the scale simply isn't used.

I'm reminded of the phrase "typical seven", i.e. games which get 7/10 represent a very specific quality level - if you're a fan of a genre, you'll absolutely love it, if not, you're not losing anything by skipping it. Arcanum was like that, WRPG fans still gather for circlejerks about it, everyone else barely remembers the game. And from Susan's review, Ni No Kuni hits that spot perfectly. The message I'm getting from most other reviews is that, despite all the high scores, the game is a seven. Read "10" if you love JRPGs, read "don't bother" if it's not your thing.

Shakura Jolithion:

OT: For anyone that's played the game, how long have you spent grinding (~# of hours, please) or how much time have you spent period, and about how far through the game are you (20%, 50%, 80%)?. For example, I'm about 90% of the way through Demon's Souls and have spent 30 hours. I ask because I'm debating again whether it's worth picking up now or waiting, and I'd really like to have an idea of how long the game will take/how quickly it will progress.

I can't speak personally or give you numbers, but it's safe to assume this title has the same amount of grinding as pretty much every other Level 5 jrpg (White Knight Chronicles, Dragon Qust VIII, Rogue Galaxy), which usually equates to about 30 hours or so throughout the entire course of the game. Rogue Galaxy in particular I could count on 1 hour of grinding before continuing the story. HOWEVER Level 5 has systems in most games to make the grinding more tolerable, by including optional side quest and benefits for doing so.

Ex: Rogue Galaxy has the hunting record and hunter ranking chart, which basically means you need to kill 30 of every monster type in the game (out of around 207 types), as you reach completion percentages, you get rewards (some of them are purely aesthetic, some of them have combat use). If you plan on reaching 100% of the hunter record and #1 spot on the hunter rankings, that's pretty much all of your grinding for the whole game. I more often found myself overleveled when I continued the story rather than underleveled. I will say though, if you are underleveled, the difficulty can be frustrating and you'll become a potion addict.

Ni No Kuni sounds like the same case.

It's amazing how much negativity towards this game is in the review compared to the final score it earned.

AldUK:

Susan Arendt:

AldUK:
I haven't played it myself yet, but I have watched quite a few videos. Seems to me that it's more like the older SNES era JRPG and less like the more recent PS2/PS3 offerings, at least in terms of gameplay mechanics. And you know what? I'm totally fine with that, I played those RPGs growing up. Those mechanics, plus Ghibli's amazingly beautiful art? Bring it on.

I think if you have a lot of free time, if you're older than 20 and you appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies, you'll love it. If not... you'll be frustrated. And yes, I get it, that's a lot of ifs.

I'm older than 20, appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies and I can't stand the game. I absolutely understand why folks would enjoy it, but let's not assume that those of us who don't are doing something wrong.

Can we also assume that people are allowed different opinions without being shot down? I wasn't saying you are wrong, I was merely stating my own opinion based on what I have seen of the game.

Except your opinion was that she didn't like it because she didn't have the right background and not because of the game itself.

Eclipse Dragon:
I can't speak personally or give you numbers, but it's safe to assume this title has the same amount of grinding as pretty much every other Level 5 jrpg (White Knight Chronicles, Dragon Qust VIII, Rogue Galaxy), which usually equates to about 30 hours or so throughout the entire course of the game. Rogue Galaxy in particular I could count on 1 hour of grinding before continuing the story. HOWEVER Level 5 has systems in most games to make the grinding more tolerable, by including optional side quest and benefits for doing so.

Interesting, I don't think I've played any Level 5 games, though I usually don't pay attention to publishers and credits anyway >.> For a game with 30 hours of grind, how long did the game take in total to beat, grind included?

Katatori-kun:
It's amazing how much negativity towards this game is in the review compared to the final score it earned.

I believe it's simply a case of the total being more than the sum of it's parts.

I'm not sure about you, but I can definitely point out games that have some major flaws yet that I still enjoyed. One of this sites major whipping boys, Dragon Age 2, for example. I know it has flaws, many of them obvious, some of them positively glaring. But, in the end, I really really enjoyed that game and absolutely consider it worth playing. I would easily rate it a 4/5 experience or maybe even more if the player was able to get into the world, the story and the characters.

Shakura Jolithion:

Eclipse Dragon:
I can't speak personally or give you numbers, but it's safe to assume this title has the same amount of grinding as pretty much every other Level 5 jrpg (White Knight Chronicles, Dragon Qust VIII, Rogue Galaxy), which usually equates to about 30 hours or so throughout the entire course of the game. Rogue Galaxy in particular I could count on 1 hour of grinding before continuing the story. HOWEVER Level 5 has systems in most games to make the grinding more tolerable, by including optional side quest and benefits for doing so.

Interesting, I don't think I've played any Level 5 games, though I usually don't pay attention to publishers and credits anyway >.> For a game with 30 hours of grind, how long did the game take in total to beat, grind included?

It depends on how much of a completionist you are. If you're just going through the story and that's your only goal, Rogue Galaxy is probably about 40 hours. If you plan on messing around with all the extras, side quest, ext (which Level 5 loves throwing in there) it can add up to over 80 hours.

Kahani:

Susan Arendt:
a thankless slog that kills your momentum.

every worn-out JRPG trope

excessive grinding, slow pace, idiotic heroes

insurmountable frustration

a giant middle finger thrust in your direction

there's a lot of "eventually" in this game

finger-twistingly complicated and unfun.

AI is just as dumb

never becomes satisfying enough to make you look forward to it.

story is pretty thin

crushingly slow pace

positively glacial

lacks in finesse

extremely frustrating

extraneous grinding, slow pacing, and shockingly stupid heroes

I can't stand the game

3.5/5

And this is why it's not possible to take game ratings seriously. If a slow, boring, stupid, un-fun game that the review explicitly says they can't stand gets 70%, what the hell could ever get less than that? The whole system is meaningless because the bottom 2/3 of the scale simply isn't used.

You must have missed the parts where she complemented its charm, aesthetics, music, and fun characters. Sometimes, the negatives take more explaining than the positives, especially when you are explaining the details of game mechanics as opposed to whether it looks pretty. Quoting the criticisms out of the context of the specific things they were describing won't not produce an accurate impression.

There's a good bit of grinding from what I played but it's never really effected my experience negatively. Maybe that's down to me being used to it from the genre, especially going back to the when the genre was at it's height of popularity. And compared to the last Level 5 game I really loved, DQ8, it's about the same level of grinding and difficulty involved thought it takes a bit longer to really rev up and offer you everything on the table.

I'd go as far to say I enjoy the grind a bit but that's different for each person. And I definitely enjoy the difficulty, that's a major plus in my books. And I enjoy the combat even though it took a bit of practice.

I like the characters too, the ones I've met so far that is. Though Oliver's voice acting is a bit weak overall. Love Mr Drippy and his Welsh accent and slang. Love it.

And the story isn't something I can quite speak on yet, being 10+ hours in so far. From have have experienced though, the main aspect is adventure over anything else. Which it pulls off damn well.

It's a game that people will love or just not want to bother with after the frst few hours. But I'd agree with most of the other reviews that it's something quite special and one of the better JRPGs this gen.

Hmmm so 7/10...

Well, I didn't expect much from a person who gave, also, 7/10 to Zero Escape.

It seems like the reviewer has nearly no experience with the, a bit more oldschool jrpgs, where grinding was something normal, having it easy was not a part of those games, back in the days.

That said I think Susan should never review a jrpg, that is a bit harder than the buttonmashing ones, again. It's just not her thing.

Wow.. How much more passive-aggressive did you really want to be, Susan?

You started off saying how much you like grinding in RPGs... But then you go on to completely berate it and belittle people who "happen to like this sort of game"? Sure, you said people who are fans of it will like it, but you did so in such a nasty, close-minded way. Just had to get across that "If you're ok with extraneous grinding, slow pacing, and shockingly stupid heroes, then you'll come to love Ni no Kuni."

If we're okay with shockingly stupid heroes? Who the hell are you to judge that? What, because you just so happen to have a website where you review games? Granted, this is merely one person's opinion on a game, but holy backhanded compliments, Batman!

It's certainly not surprising, coming from what seems to be a Western RPG (*ahem*BioWare*ahem*) fangirl.. "Let's all forget that pretty much all Western RPGs have exactly the same tropes and idioms as each other, the only good thing we can say about JRPGs is that they sure are purdy! You are a lesser human being if you have the nerve to like this kind of 'boring' tripe."

Oh well, can't say I didn't expect it. That's all website reviews are these days. Hype the shit out of the game prior to release (or conversely report so much negative press about it) then do the exact opposite in the review of it. Hell, this review could have easily changed the title of the game to Final Fantasy XIII and Wizard's Companion to Datalog.

All of that "eventually" rant just screams "Why can't I have everything noooooowwwww!?" which is so incredibly entitled.. Wait.. It's an RPG, right? Don't Western RPGs do the exact same thing? Of course you don't get everything right away! Hell, Oliver is a child. Of course he's not the grand supreme powerful being, that's why he's on this damn adventure, to gain those skills! Still, extremely close-minded and ignorant calling him "a brainless gorp of a child who lacks the deductive reasoning skill of your average sandwich bag".

That isn't a fair or accurate nonpartisan review, that is forcing your biased perception onto others. Reviews, at least as far as I'm concerned, should be entirely neutral. Nobody cares what you think of the characters, they aren't you. You can absolutely review a game/product without putting your own personal bias on it, it's been done. People can make their own mind up about whether it's good or not, your role is to describe the gameplay. You could very well have done that, without adding the sarcasm or insults.

Hell, why do star/number ratings even still exist anyway? Becoming more like the TV Tropes article every day! http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ReviewsAreTheGospel

EDIT: As a few others just before me have said, this just screeeeams "I don't understand you people and your Japanese RPGs today! HURR I'M AMURRICAN, our games are clearly superior because American!" Sigh.. And it's hilarious that there was an attempt of "I like grinding. I really do. Now here's why grinding is terrible and awful and you all suck if you like it."
And wall plaid (Desert Bus reference~) to the gentleman who pointed out how actually-not-that-grindy the game is. I'm guessing, Susan, that you would call the Nintendo 3DS remake of PlayStation 2's Tales of the Abyss a "grind-fest" as well? When you can absolutely get through just fine without it? Sounds like you weren't that interested to begin with, going from the tone of the review.. No matter how you tried to cover it up.

Torrasque:
I understood this review as a "QQ I want to play FFXIII" because every single complaint in this review can be solved by just playing FFXIII. Yes it also opens up other complaints, but it certainly "solves" the "problems" with Ni No Kuni.

Yes Oliver is pretty slow, but he's a fucking kid, not some genius that has been training for eons to save the world.
Yes you do have to grind, but the overworld music is so delightful and the landscape so beautiful, that grinding ain't no thang. Besides that, its so random to recruit new familiars that you end up killing 10-20 mobs before you finally get one to join you. And when you finally do get to the point of, "ok, combat is easy now" it is because you are finally familiar with enemies and how to clean them up efficiently, more than your party is OP enough.
Yes you can't access the item bag or certain parts of your menu, but why would you ever want to access them before you get to that part of the game? Wanna look in your bag and sort the 0 items you have? Well too bad, you have no items, so there is nothing to sort.

...I am intrigued by this post and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Hell, you said everything I textually vomited out and quite a lot better too! I particularly liked the last line. NOTHING IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH. Apparently.
Oh, and all the "I'm too old to play JRPGs and grind-fests now!" talk is hilarious. Plenty of people my age (25) and older who play JRPGs just fine, all while juggling work, university, relationships and general living. I don't even get the grinding argument anymore. I have never once had to grind in any JRPG. I've had to run around aimlessly in *Western* RPGs to progress, but no, I'm always at just the right point in JRPGs. Getting slaughtered by a boss? You obviously haven't used Libra (or whatever the equivalent is in other games outside Final Fantasy) or you are, in fact, doing it wrong. I've also never once had to "spam auto-attack", because I'm actually focusing on proper strategies. Sounds like a whole lot of "WE'RE TOO LAZY waaaaaaaaaaa"...

I do ever so love it when someone who obviously dislikes a certain genre of games attempts to write a review for one. I mean, it's just as bad as when a fanboi writes a gushing all positive review, but quite frankly this is no better than a Zero Punctuation review however we're already aware of his feelings on the subject and just watch it because it'll be funny. Gotta love that journalist subjectivity.

Shakura Jolithion:

Furrama:
That's like having a game who's selling point is " KITTENS!!!" and the reviewer hates kittens. And all they talk about is how bad the kittens are. So... are they ugly kittens or cute ones? Because I came for the kittens.

It sounds like you're saying grinding is a selling point for Ni No Kuni... I highly doubt that, and I don't think I've ever seen any game advertise *grinding* as a selling point. Sure, you can expect some amount of grind in JRPGs, but being a genre trope doesn't excuse it from criticism or account in review score.

For everyone complaining about the review score/scoring system, here's my interpretation:
In a lot of schools, a 70% is a bare minimum C, which is mediocre work that fulfills its purpose but doesn't have many good qualities. Or it basically meets requirements but either doesn't have a lot of good or outstanding features or is held back by various problems (in this case, grind/pacing, for example). A 60% (3 stars or below) would be barely passing, meeting requirements of, for example, being a functional game with all features and some issues, but still fully functional.
Anything less indicates varying degrees of failure: A 0 would be where the game won't even play, various things between 0 and 60 indicate the game's unplayable, etc. In a lot of schools (on a 10 point scale), a 60 is passing by the skin of your teeth, and anything less is some amount of failure.
70~79 would be average, like an English paper that covers its topic but doesn't do a great job arguing its point but doesn't have a lot of problems. Similarly, a game would be functional and work but not do anything particularly well- alternatively, it could do a few things well, but have plenty of bugs or other drawbacks counterbalancing them.
80~89 would represent a pretty well written paper that argues its point to a good degree and doesn't have too many errors, like a video game that plays fairly well and has several good qualities (great sound, graphics, gameplay, whatever), but isn't exceptional in all of its qualities (think: breaking a game review down into sound, graphics, gameplay, story, etc., and not doing excellent in all, but good/great in most), or is exceptional in a few but has a few shortcomings/bugs.
90+ would mean a paper that argues its point well and is almost free of spelling/grammatical errors; a game that excels in most departments and has few flaws/shortcomings.
Most games, I think, would at least be functional (thus worthy of a "D", or 3 stars-ish) in most departments without too many glitches/flaws/shortcomings. Probably too many games wind up with 80+~90+ based on what I've seen on metacritic and other places, but if most publishers are putting out *functional* games with at least a moderate grasp on gameplay and storytelling, you can expect most reviews to be at least a 3, thus why you don't see too many things on the trash end of the spectrum (would you really consider buying a game if you believed it was only worth a 0, 1, or 2 stars? What about 3?)
Anyway, that's my take on review scores... Hope that helps make the ratings make more sense.

OT: For anyone that's played the game, how long have you spent grinding (~# of hours, please) or how much time have you spent period, and about how far through the game are you (20%, 50%, 80%)?. For example, I'm about 90% of the way through Demon's Souls and have spent 30 hours. I ask because I'm debating again whether it's worth picking up now or waiting, and I'd really like to have an idea of how long the game will take/how quickly it will progress.

Grinding is a part of the wallpaper. I expect it to a point, and can enjoy it if implemented well.

I don't really look at scores. I read what the poster says and skip over the ratings.

It's a JRPG and follows the tropes well, You don't have to have more then a handful of familiars to get through the game, thats kinda on you if you want a bunch and want to grind to level them all up. Heck no you don't have to grind that much, it follow the ala chrono trigger method of if you kill everything on your way, you won't have to grind for the boss.

Now with that said I didn't find much wrong with the review, now Jim on the other hand is a problem. If you guys are gonna HURP DURP, 3 inches down from the end of every review that you give a score people aren't expecting you should stop reviewing. I wasn't even done with my thought of " Hey that's a lower score then I was thinking it would get." Before basically getting called an idiot by someone that works for the site. If you guys can't let your reviews be honestly reviewed by your audience, don't allow comments or threads anymore.

Its weird. I was worried about the grind, and find I haven't yet had to. I've only made it past the volcano, so the grind could come, but I find that using defense and evade I can pretty much avoid all major damage to Oliver. Keep two monsters at a high level, morph the others, and everyone levels up quickly. The partner? Eh. She dies every boss battle because the AI doesn't seem to get defense and evade, and I just keep her tactics on Heal otherwise.

I find the game cute (seriously, I could just walk around the game world looking at things), the battles are fun (the main characters underused sadly, and these sorts of active battles could use a lesson from Grandia who pretty much perfected the art of controlling multiple characters in a near flawless way), and the story is no worse than most JRPGs (who I think as an industry stagnated when I was a teen, or my interest has moved on).

Oliver's realization of his true quest, from the selfish ("I HAVE TO SAVE MY MOTHER") to the selfless is done well and the fact he acts like a kid is great (rather than an adult in a kid's body). It is typical save the world from the big bad foozle. Currently the villain hasn't been featured enough to make a comment on.

The tutorial was eh. Not near as bad as FFXIII, thank ye gods, but I really wish game developers would begin to put the tutorial outside the game rather than trying to incorporate it into the story. Your average game player is old(er) or has been playing since they were a wee toddler. We don't need "Press [BUTTON] to search" anymore (if we ever did) and those few who are somehow just getting into games: that's what the tutorial outside the game is for. I miss the days of games like A Boy and His Blob where you're plunked down in the game world with absolutely no idea what's going on.

Monsters collection has never been a draw for me, hence my avoidance of all things Pokemon. I don't see this as inspiring me to catch them all, but so far keeping a couple relatively powerful monsters seems good enough to pass most battles (an evade and a defense monster are absolute musts).

hmmm, and yet our beloved Jim Sterling, thank God for him, gave this game a 9, that's why is better to try a demo or rent the game before purchasing it when you are in the fence about it

MattAn24:

That isn't a fair or accurate nonpartisan review, that is forcing your biased perception onto others. Reviews, at least as far as I'm concerned, should be entirely neutral. Nobody cares what you think of the characters, they aren't you. You can absolutely review a game/product without putting your own personal bias on it, it's been done. People can make their own mind up about whether it's good or not, your role is to describe the gameplay. You could very well have done that, without adding the sarcasm or insults.

As much as I disagree with the review(specifically the wording), I'd rather have this than what you're describing. In a non biased review, you can't say the controls feel off or that they're perfect and say why, you would be limited to saying things like, "The controls are responsive, when I press a button the corresponding action is displayed. There is music. The sound effects occur on time. There are visuals in 3d.". A non biased factual non-emotional description of any art form makes it dull. Would you really look into a game if all the reviews sounded like they had no emotional impact on the reviewer at all?

I find the use of reviews are to read up on several of them and see who's biased opinion aligns best with your own biased opinion.

...also, your line about forcing her biased reception on others makes it sound like she's some kind of immoral brainwasher. If people decide not to buy something based on a single review then chances are they weren't very interested in it to begin with.

This is a JRPG in both a good and bad way. I definitely agree with Susan on the grinding, it's freaking ridiculous. Even when the enemies runs away from you, that still doesn't mean you are high enough level for the next boss, you need to chase them down to grind some more! Eventually I cheated and looked for place to grind, turns out there's a particular place where you can get 2k+ per battle, that cut down the frustration a lot. If anyone is thinking about playing this game, grind minimally before you get the ship, then go grind on the Ugly Duckling Isles. The sidequests (aptly named Errands) are really just that, errands. You don't get any exp after completing an errand, you only gain exp on the way of doing the errand. Another thing that bothers me was the lack of voice acting, I'm about 33 hours in, and voice acted cutscenes are getting scarce. I wish all the story quest cutscenes had voice acting.

That said, I still enjoy playing the game for the most part. Oliver and the gang are funny and charming. The cell-shaded artwork looks great. The story is good even if a bit predictable. It's like playing through a children's book. The characters you meet along your journey is mostly likable. The (Japanese) voice acting is excellent as usual. I kinda know what to expect going in, Level5 games are known to be grindy, but I'm ok with that. So I'm enjoying it more than Susan did.

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