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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
48.9 hrs on record
I don't recommend this game.

I actually pre-ordered this, as I'm a huge fan of the old Xuan Yuan Jian Series; I enjoyed Gates of Firmament even though the combat was very bad, the story made up for it. I played this game in Chinese (audio/subtitles, which don't have a text skip option so you have to wait for audio tracks to finish playing or skip the entire cutscene).

In-Depth Explanation:

XYS series has always been well-respected for it's plot development, the gameplay has been on and off (with the migration to 3D gameplay basically killing all elements of FUN because this studio seems to not really have the skill to manage 3D development). So let's start with the plot, your character starts off as a caretaker of his sister, the advancement of the story is closely linked to this situation, thus the entire game can be summed up as "hero tries to save the sister". This is the entire plot of the game. There is no over-arching goal to defeat evil, save the world, learn about other cultures, visit other countries (which was common in other XYS games), this game is just "save the sister". This plot is delivered through a strict on-rails story advancement.

Zones are divided by fast-travel statues but these statues are quite far apart and if you need to backtrack it is a huge pain in the ass because movement is so slow. This also made backtracking a pain in the ass for certain quests. Save points are divided by campsites, but these camp sites are also far apart so if you have been battling or making progress and die, you roll back pretty far into the past. This became a problem towards mid game as a lot of cliffs aren't barriered so you can accidentally fall off while doing some pseudo-platforming, this would roll you back to your last save point.

On the topic of quests, there aren't very many, there's very few side quests in this game; the previous game had hundreds. Off the top of my head, there is the mini-game zhuluqi side quest, a rumors gathering quest, and a few fetch quests.

Some XYS tradition/legacy stuff that was missing, you don't get to use the namesake sword until NG+. There's not really a demon-crafting/mixing system, the way it's done this time around is a basic crafting system based on harvesting souls which you then combine to create a demon for equipping. There's a lot less creativity because of significantly fewer items/demon types in the game, and you can't use demons to craft (only souls and item materials). DOMO Studio has only 1 interaction other than the 4 zhuluqi games, there are no DOMO side quests (which are a tradition in the other games).

The environment/art/models look great, NPCs look like garbage, but the monsters look really good, especially the bosses. This feels super underutilized though because nothing is really "fleshed out". Some of the towns look amazing, but there's nobody to interact with. Mountain mazes look great, but they're a 1 time visit/usage location.


Music: 10/10, it's fantastic. XYS never disappoints with sound, and the music/effects in this game are fantastic.

Graphics: 8/10, the environments look great (when they render properly). Bosses look amazing, overall ambience development is great. 2D art is a 10/10. The problem is that this game is VERY POORLY OPTIMIZED. Also some weird issues with reflections/shadows.

Gameplay: 4/10, this game was designed as an ARPG (first in the series), and it's a very, very, bad ARPG. You have the standard Souls-like combat movements, dodge/roll, normal attack+combo, heavy/special attack+combo, block. You can change to an alternate stance which changes your special attack, and you can level up your specials for super-moves on cooldown. Movement overall however, is very sluggish, you don't feel "fast" even when sprinting, and it's a slog to move zone to zone.

Plot/Story: 4/10, the story in this game is a disaster, there's very little investment in the characters such that it feels almost like an afterthought when there's some sort of plot filler in idle/rest dialogue.

The main thing is that this game feels unfinished; feels like they had all these great ideas, great environments, great (in theory) combat system, but everything falls short of being a "good" experience. You enter a really cool town... but there's nothing to interact with. You go into a very beautifully rendered mountain maze, but there's nothing in it. You have a weapon that you can upgrade and the closeup is really cool... but you can barely see it in actual combat. You have teammates that you can customize... but you can't control them, and the enemy ignores them so what's the point of upgrading? Everything just feels incomplete, and honestly this game is a huge disappointment, and really kills what trust I have left in this company.

Final Note:
I really think this company is just milking its fans at this point. I own physical collectors editions of previous games in the series and some of the stuff the company does is just pathetic. In recent years I've only been buying on Steam (albeit still pre-ordering), and the game experiences has left me with "meh" feelings in the end. I 100% do not recommend buying physical copies of any Softstar games; my physical copies came with keys that were eventually disabled because my desktop updated from Win10 1709 to 1909, and the company said "well it is your fault for updating your computer". I was able to eventually finish the games on Steam and no longer support them through their own stores.

Overall: 6.5/10
Posted February 17. Last edited February 17.
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5 people found this review helpful
92.6 hrs on record
This is the first time I've 100%'d a game this quickly.

Ryza 2 was a blast and even more fun than Ryza 2; for the most part I find Atelier story lines to be quite boring, not really a fan of slice of life games, however Ryza 1 and 2 both got me hooked through the crafting aspects of the games.

When I play an MMO, the thing that consumes most of my time isn't the plot, or the leveling, or the quest grinding, it is really the crafting/blacksmithing that gets me hooked. Atelier Ryza 1 and 2 both got that down pat.

Ryza 2 (via plot) expands upon the crafting and makes certain things more sensible (with reason, via plot gate-locks) and makes the crafting/smithing/alchemy a delight to play. The sound effects, music, and overall crafting system got me hooked from the get go. My hours at this time says 92.6, I would argue 80 hours alone were spent crafting various items/gears/seeds etc. that were unnecessary to advance the plot. It's that good.

The plot itself is basic slice-of-life fare, the combat isn't very difficult (I actually played most of the game on easy/normal because I hate grinding levels). However the crafting really hooked me in, I found myself working on expanding the recipe trees "just cuz" and ended up super overpowered because I had managed to accidentally min/max weapons 1/3 of the way through the story. But you know what, that's crafting for ya.

I personally enjoy Stardew, Don't Starve, Recettear, various farming/vending/smithing type games, but the one thing that always keeps me hooked is the blacksmithing and crafting aspect. And for that, Ryza is the game of choice.

  • Gameplay: 10/10 (based off crafting)
  • Music: 10/10 (sound effects are great, music is pretty good, the transitions keep you "in the mood")
  • Combat: 5/10 (it's actually pretty bad, action focused combat but the monsters are super easy to kill even on the highest difficulty. Also Rose Bomb (a 2nd tier bomb) is overtuned and does more damage than any other bomb in the game. If you min/max a bomb, you can 1 hit KO all of the bosses as well).
  • Story: 6/10, it's not bad, but ultimately it's your average slice-of-life fare, while Ryza 1's story was a "growing up" deal, Ryza 2 is more of a "self-discovery, oh this is who I really am" which doesn't really have a huge climax or pay off. You do learn about some interesting history in the line of Alchemists though, which I'm not sure is canon to the remainder of the series.

    Final Score: 31/40. I recommend this game.
Posted February 13.
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1 person found this review helpful
4.8 hrs on record
This studio doesn't deserve your dollars, wait for it to come out on discount (at least 50% or more).
Posted January 11.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
26.7 hrs on record
This game is garbage.

Controls: 1/5
Music: 5/5
Gameplay: 1/5
Story: 3/5

Final score: 2.5/5

Music is the only good thing about this game. The voice acting must've been done by budget amateurs because it's just awful. The scenery is gorgeous, but underused and underoptimized so it's a resource hog. The controls are just garbage, almost unplayable. Mix of tank controls + camera controls, often times you have problems see the puzzle because of random spins. Movement is awful, sprints are more like light jogs. Text is unskippable so you have to wait for the audio to finish playing.

I spent 26 hours on this game because it was mostly time spent waiting for audio to end. I'm sure with skippable text you could finish this in about 3 hours. The game is actually very, very short. Each chapter has a different length with some containing more content/puzzles than others. The final chapter is extremely short and ends on a cliffhanger.

I do not recommend this game, it's probably going to get retconned in the next game anyways.

The next game already has terrible reviews because of poor optimization. Benoit Sokal really needs to take a second look at these game reviews and figure out if he cares about the characters because this is really pathetic.
Posted January 11.
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4 people found this review helpful
41.5 hrs on record
Took me a little over 30 hours but I finished it (lots of save file editing).

This game is kind of impossible without a guide, there's a lot of hidden quests you can only obtain by talking to literally everyone in the game.

Leveling is kind of hard because there's not really a spawn site that regenerates regularly. You can eventually unlock some places to train but for your first approach (if you can even get there) you won't be able to win a fight.

Enemies have some insane dodge% skills, you'll miss probably 50% of your attacks, for some boss fights this means a team wipe in the first round.

Status effects are kind of useless.

There are quests that rely on RNG spawns (called RUMORS) on the world map, these RNG spawns never showed up for me so I couldn't complete them.

A number of quests just bugged out, the NPCs that were supposed to accept the quest items just never triggered.

I played the entire game in Traditional Chinese and would say I speed-read 95% of the game. Some sections (like the ending) I slow-played it, but the pace of the game is unbearably slow. Combat is extremely slow, a single round can take a few minutes (some fights can take up to 20 rounds) because of the animation delay and wait times between NPCs executing combat actions.

Overall 2/5, not really "fun to play".

Closing thoughts: This game was also released right before the studio got hit with a huge lawsuit so development/patch fixes were halted for quite some time. Unfortunately not all these bugs got repaired, and they ended up releasing their next game (also in a very broken state at the time). I'll play their next 2 games sometime this year, hopefully they'll be less painful than this one, and thankfully, not the day 1 version.
Posted January 7.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
1 person found this review funny
78.0 hrs on record
This game is like a Persona clone with maybe 20% of the variety.

The majority of combat is button mashing combos on palette swapped mobs and grinding experience.

The story is pretty good (very Persona esque), and you can build relationships with characters to improve their assist stats/combos etc.

Music is great 10/10
Combat is boring 5/10
Story is good 8/10
Gameplay is a bit rough around the edges, controls feel unresponsive at times, 6/10.
Posted September 2, 2020.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
109.7 hrs on record (109.7 hrs at review time)
It's pretty good if you can read Chinese. Some minor bugs.

Difficulty is through the roof, I strongly recommend the guide from Gamer.com.tw.

Lots of missables, of the 109 hours I'd estimate 80 were doing quests. There's only 3 main towns, with hundreds of side quests, and at least 10 different combat/story zones.

True throwback to the JinYong game of the past, and older style Softstar games.

The DLC is kinda buggy, there is a "Wooden Man" quest that is not completable. Music is great 10/10, combat is 10/10 (difficulty is quite challenging), story is 10/10.
Posted September 2, 2020.
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1 person found this review funny
41.3 hrs on record
Massive stuttering on a RTX 2070lmao.
Posted August 15, 2020.
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8 people found this review helpful
67.7 hrs on record (56.8 hrs at review time)
I was hesitant to buy this game, but eventually gave in because of the sale a while back. It has been a mental slog because this is not a very good game.

Crystar is not a very good "game".

If we talk about labyrinth/dungeon crawler games, things that keep them interesting are the unique/non static challenges, such as monsters, or bosses, or puzzles. This game has ~6 kinds of monsters with palette swaps. The bosses are just bullet sponges, you can walk right up to them and button mash, healing when you need to. Even on EASY, it takes forever because your damage doesn't scale well. I hit a 500 chain combo, with an average of 120dmg, meaning this boss had 60000 hp on EASY MODE.

Audio: 9/10, music is great, voice lines are awful (English and Japanese are well done however characters voice their attacks, so in that boss fight above my character spouted 500 combat voice lines...).

Graphics: 6/10, standard for a JRPG engine, the environments and the themes were interesting but could've been developed further, felt like it was half done.

Gameplay: 3/10, this is a very bad "game". The gameplay loop consists of you receiving a mission, running 3 labyrinths, killing the boss, receiving a mission. You're basically watching the minimap and avoiding the enemies because it's a slog, and enemies have a lot of HP. Character combos are irrelevant, just button mash the light attack chain. Combos also lock you into animations so you cannot cancel until they're finished, meaning you just stand there taking hits from enemies.

Plot: 6/10, melancholic theme to the game is unique for the JRPG genre, there are a few other melancholy games that come to mind (I AM SETSUNA) but this one does it pretty well. The plot is full of holes though, and the game makes you jump hurdles to get the "true ending".

Overall: 4/10. This is a very bad "game", if you just watched cutscenes on YouTube, it'd be pretty close to the actual experience of playing the game.

500 combo example:

Posted April 13, 2020. Last edited April 13, 2020.
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1 person found this review helpful
133.9 hrs on record
This is one of the few games which I have a 100% on achievements for.

Combat - 7/10, while interesting it's not very well implemented. Will bore a lot of people on any difficulty below hard. Once you figure out crafting, bombs can 1 hit KO bosses in hard mode.

Crafting - 10/10, best crafting system I've ever seen or utilized. It was more addicting than the actual game itself. I spent probably 30 hours on gameplay/harvesting, and the remainder 100+ on crafting random things.

Sound - 8/10, not really sure what they're saying in Japanese, but the music was pretty good.

Story/plot - 6/10, standard slice of life fare.

Overall - 8/10, crafting game for the craft addicts. Almost a match-3 like style of addiction where you're creating chains and matching resources to get the final product.
Posted April 1, 2020.
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Showing 1-10 of 70 entries