Upplagd: 20 december
If you're bored of typical RPGs and want something different and fairly unique, give this a try. From its "union" based combat and the two way morale system and the semi auto skill execution and the "critical timing", there are many things in the game that feels special compare to other games out there.
The most prominent aspect is the union group system, where you assign characters into a squad and have their HP combined to one unit. You can have up to 18 characters in up to 5 unions with up to 5 cahracters each. This sounds generic although quite unheard of in an RPG, until you get to the formation system, where each placement has different bonuses (and weakpoints) so where your squad stands can matter, and the bonuses can actually increase if the "right" type of character stands on the right spot. The formation system is properly trick and is one of the most complex out there and most players won't even bother learning it, but those that do will have an easier time, as certain formations, besides the bonuses, also features different style of placement that can really help against certain AOE spells.
There are typically two types of RPG, those that don't need movement to attack (old FF style), and those that has a battlefield and grids where units battle. This game sits in the middle, or rather sits in neither. Unions move automatically to attack enemy groups, so initially you assume that it is essentially a 3D version of FF's style, until one fine day you notice a "too far away" or "move towards the enemy" and be brutally awaken to the fact that there is a real sense of range. Although the game handles movement automatically, there is real strategy involved in WHEN you move, as most enemies (and your squads) can only engage one group at a time, and selecting an enemy to attack involves real battlefield senses, as in is there a clear path and is the enemy too far away that you risk being attacked by another nearer enemy. To intercept (and be intercept) is all part of the game.
So is morale. This game's morale system is pretty drastic and can turn the tide by as much as a mind boggling 400%, so its safe to say that morale management is key to every battle, no matter how strong your unions are (or how strong the enemies are). Even if your unions are weak, if you manage to have high morale, you can hold your own against seemingly impossible enemies, like fighting dragons early game.
At first glance, fighting seem pretty normal in itself, with each character attacking one at a time, until all of a sudden a "quick time event" comes up and you're caught off guard. If you played Assassin's Creed 3, you'll note the similarities, only this is much harder as the timing much be exact. Successful timing upon evade will result in a counter much stronger than usual, while successful timing upon parry will stun the enemy. Seems easy enough, until you realise that if you're successful the first time, all the characters in the union that attack afterwards all earned a quick time event as well, so you're caught off guard again, until the first time you did a successful chain and witness the final character in the chain gaining an unavoidable +500% critical attack. No other RPG gets even close to this.
Sure, you're thinking that having 18 characters in an RPG, this should be properly easy right? Except that the enemy side can have up to 50 in one long, multi stage, large scale battle, and in most cases, enemies can heal as well. Large battles like this gets properly intoxicating as you witness your support group gets ganged by 3 enemy squads, or you managed to gang up on an enemy squad who just decimated yours, or you managed to slaughter 3 groups with one well placed spell, or you endured and endured the relentless bombardment from 7 enemy squads until you managed to activate your battlefield-decimating skill and watch the resulting destruction. Again, no other RPG gets close to this.
Sure, it's not perfect, for example the class system, which the game auto-selects, is quite mind-numbing if you want some control of it (trying to get the class you want is never easy). Fortunately, the class system is purely bonus based and doesn't affect the skills you can use, although each character you can hire has different skills. The story isn't anything special and the game isn't exactly "open world" so the world map isn't explorable. Leveling up your skills can take some micromanaging too as the game auto selects what skill your character uses depending on the circumstances (again, unheard of in an RPG), but you can restrict what it can select by disabling skills.
This game has a charm that's not found in any RPG to date, and i suspect ever. It's a future classic, and certainly a must have.