Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel (PS3)

By Moe Rantala

Published on Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Graphics: 7.00
Sound: 10.00
Gameplay: 8.00
Replays: 6.00
Gamelength: 8.00

An RPG based around music with dating sim elements? And STRIPPING?

That’s more or less what this game is in a nutshell, but it’s actually a really fun RPG. The graphics aren’t terribly impressive but they’re crisp and vibrant and they work really well for the game. The story is pretty standard but there’s a lot of depth to it, especially when you start diving and getting to know the characters. Now that the basics are out of the way, lets take a look at the gameplay.

There are three main parts to this game. There’s the exploration/battle system, the dive system, and the talk topics. These actually all intertwine together so while it may seem very simple, there’s a gentle tone of complexity to it that really makes it work.

The battle system is real time action with a block system where in order to block, you stand completely still. It’s kind of awkward to get used to at first, but once you do it comes pretty easily enough. You can switch which character to control via the pause menu in combat, and the others in your party attack automatically. The Reyvateil (one of the main points of the game) will attack with special moves at your command, but sings the rest of the time. So basically you just control one character and everyone else does their own thing. Battle is pretty simple but it can be hard, especially later on. The Reyvateil can strip, and as they lose more clothing, they become far more powerful (because they are closer to the earth, since the clothes are no longer a barrier), allowing them to do much more damage with their attacks. However, in order to strip further, you must use the Dive system in order to unlock levels of trust.

The Dive system is what allows you to explore the personalities of the different Reyvateil that you encounter, and as you delve deeper into their personalities you learn far more about them, and become closer to them as well. This is key to unlocking more powerful Hyuma, which you can install in your Reyvateil in order to enhance/change the attributes on their song. Diving isn’t free and costs both leaf (currency) and dive points, and each scenario that you encounter within the dive costs DP as well. In fact, some of them cost DP more than once, and you will fail a mission if you don’t have enough DP, so grinding is actually fairly important.

Finally the talk topics. As you progress through the game and see things related to the story, or talk to people, or even just go to different locations, the group and your Reyvateil in particular will have things to talk about. The Group topics don’t really do all that much but when you see the word TALK next to one of your Reyvateil in the main menu, the next time you rest, you can talk to them and learn more about them and become closer to them. As I said, there is actually a lot more depth to this game than meets the eye.

Now you might be wondering how this is all intertwined. Well, in order to dive further into their subconscious, you have to gain their trust by talking to them during the talk scenes mentioned above. In order to unlock more things to talk about, you must explore and battle your way through the story. In order to progress through the story, you must get stronger. It’s a never ending circle, and honestly it is pretty awesome.

There is also an item creation portion of the game that allows you to take materials and construct items based on recipes that you find, but not only can you create items and weapons and armor, but you can create super moves to use in combat as well. This and the diving system make grinding absolutely important.

The random battle system is kind of lame though, you have a bar at the bottom of your hud when you’re exploring a level, and it changes color based on how likely it is you’re about to go into battle. Once you complete a battle, the bar decreases. When the bar is completely empty, you must leave the area and come back to it in order for the bar to fill up again. This makes grinding kind of annoying, but in the end it’s pretty fun. It’s really easy to lose a few hours in this game.

One of the most amazing things about this game is the music. It was really enjoyable to listen to and the soundtrack that came with it is pretty awesome. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it.

Overall this is a pretty solid game. The encyclopedia offers a lot of information about topics you might not be too solid with, and there’s a good deal of back story in it as well. The characters are pretty neat, and the battle system isn’t bad at all. There are certainly better RPGs out there, but there are definitely worse ones as well.

Full Disclosure: Review copy provided by NIS America

Overall Rating: 8.00

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