RPG Review #63: Kartia: The Word of Fate

NuMetalManiak Kartia: The Word of Fate, also known under the names Rebus and Legend of Kartia, is a PSX strategy RPG set in a fun fantasy-filled world. The game draws heavy comparison to a game I've held off on quite a while: Final Fantasy Tactics, but I found it to be a very easy game overall. Even moreso, Yoshitaka Amano is the art designer for this game, and there is quite some interesting art to find. But overall, I enjoyed much of what I found in Kartia.

Gameplay: So this is a turn-based startegy RPG. For this game, you have full control of troops. You can have up to five human characters in battle, and equip them during combat. The magic aspect of this game is done via Kartia, cards that basically do everything in this world, some of them have different ranges and such. It's a good aspect of battle considering its versatility. There's three types of Kartia to use, Silk, Mithril, and World Tree, and all are used to power up and mix certain spells for many different combinations. With the right moves and sets, you can make the human characters break the game easily on their respective turns. One major thing to note though is that all human characters must survive each battle. If a single human falls in battle, it's a game over for that battle. This is quite different from a permadeath aspect which was seen in other strategy RPGs.

Humans are not the only combatants. At most two humans on your team can create Phantoms, which are sentient beings that can fight for you. There are a number of combinations, from the standard Miles phantoms to advanced melee ones like Pardoses. There are ranged attackers as well like Morderes and Dragons. Phantoms also can be equipped accordingly, but sometimes they cannot equip certain types of armor. Moreover, phantoms come in three variants: Common, Doll, and Shadow. The game flat out tells you it's a rock-paper-scissors thing when talking about their weaknesses, so Common vs. Doll vs. Shadow vs. Common. Phantoms can die in battle, and you even get their equipment back. The combatants each got stats worth looking at, most notably magic defense is one to look for in order to quickly take out some enemies.

Phantoms can be created either before battle or during it. However, they use up Kartia to create. Weapons and armor also can be created before or during battle, and they also require Kartia. There are no shops in this game, instead, the Kartia prizes are usually given out in a special Arena segment of the game, rewarded at the end of each battle, or found on the battlefield. Treasure can be found from treasure chests, barrels, crates, or even using Earth spells on the ground. Speaking of which, terrain is a major factor, as it affects certain weapons. A spear does more damage from lower ground, and axes are better on high ground, while swords are great on even terrain. Earth spells modify terrain, as do a few other ones. As for treasure, one other thing to get are Texts which allow for much better Kartia combos. This game is pretty linear, going through 18 chapters for one of two characters. More on that later, but as far as I can tell, I enjoyed the gameplay, creating things, defeating enemies, you name it. It was pretty easy to deal with, but still fun. Grade: A

Characters: The game splits off into two stories, one follows Toxa, the male lead, and the other follows Lacryma, the female lead. Each story is composed of eighteen chapters and the characters in each one fluctuate somewhat. Due to the way Amano did the character artwork, some of the portraits seen in-game freaked me out, although sprites are used in all other cases, which I am okay with. Each character, along with each phantom, has an equip level, from A to E, A being the best. Many human characters do get better as the game goes on.

Toxa Classico: The main male lead of the game is of course a great physical fighter, but works well as a magic knight too.
Alana Ilvanya: One of Toxa's main companions, she and Toxa are Free Knights and both are capable fighters. Both can create phantoms too.
Duran Bouquet: Yes, Duran is a guy, for your information, even though the artwork says otherwise. He's mainly a heavy hitter but can work as a magic knight. He is of the shrine warrior class, meaning he cannot create phantoms.
Misty Rouge: She is fought in Toxa's first chapter, but ends up working with him later on. I found her on par with Duran.
Posha Saint-Amour: She starts out in Lacryma's chapter, but moves over to Toxa's chapter afterwards. She is incredibly weak at first but thankfully gets better as the game progresses, going from medium to shrine warrior as far as class changes go.
Karis: She joins late in Toxa's quest, and is of the Inquirer class. A powerful mage.
Lacryma Christi: For a female lead, she starts off very weak, but gets way better as the game progresses. Originally a shrine warrior, so she cannot create phantoms, but later on her class changes to Inquirer and she can create phantoms.
Troy Weathering: He has horrible equipment rank, but a great Kartia rank, so he is a very effective mage. His class in Encrypter, and he can create phantoms.
Kun Vine: He is the heaviest hitter in Lacryma's group, but has the worst magic stat. Basically the opposite of Troy.
Ele La Monella Shinon: She starts in Toxa's group, but eventually becomes a member of Lacryma's entourage. Unlike Posha, her gains over time are not that great and she is probably the weakest character overall.
Bachstail: He is an adventurer and Inquirer. Overall, he's good enough and can create phantoms.
Rimzan: The crutch character of the game. His equipment rank and defense are sky high, but he is only available for a select few missions.

Those are controllable human characters. Of course, there are plenty of controllable phantoms too, plus a ton of enemies to contend with. Anyone with a portrait is obviously a very important character, and there's a lot of life fledged into the characters in Kartia, even if the artwork gets ugly at times. Grade: B+

Plot: 36 chapters, eighteen per character. The episodic structure is a bit annoying to follow considering how it is done, so I'll cover it in chapters by character. Of course, I finished both scenarios so I should know.
Toxa Chapter 1: Druid Girl: Misty and a group of thugs captures a half-elf known as Mona. Toxa and his group with Ele, Duran, and Alana beat Misty and rescue the girl, while capturing her as well.
Chapter 2: Deal of justice: Misty finds out she's betrayed by her former colleagues. One of her colleagues, Garum, fights Toxa's party in this scenario.
Chapter 3: Seeking the Path: Garum attacks again, where Toxa is prepared to make a stand to defend Mona. Garum dies at the end of this scenario.
Chapter 4: Vigilance: Vigilance is the name of the organization your characters are in. The leader, Rimzan, is a playable character in this scenario, along with Posha. The player is up against thieves and phantoms.
Chapter 5: Adoration: Posha joins Toxa's group permanently in this mission. It's a filler one against a few thieves on a river.
Chapter 6: Promise: In this chapter, we see that Toxa clearly fell in love with the druid girl, Mona, and vows to protect her. Toxa's companions fight off thieves for a bit before he shows up.
Chapter 7: The Past Stays: Toxa's group confronts one of the rebel leaders, named Cross.
Chapter 8: Days of Rest: Three Dragon phantoms are on the loose and Toxa's group fights them. Lacryma and Bachstail help them out.
Chapter 9: Sign of Fun: This is an arena fight in which Kun joins Toxa's group while Duran and Misty are not a part of it. It's completely filler and it doesn't even have to be won. Also Alana gets proposed to by some random guy named Assam and Rimzan almost gets killed fighting a nearly immortal elf kid named Saradiart.
Chapter 10: Kindness: Same party as before, except with a fight alongside a river with water phantoms known as Garorks. Apparently Misty's birthday happens around this time too.
Chapter 11: Knight's Choice, Her Choice: Toxa's group defends Mona again from a lot of enemies.
Chapter 12: Conspiracy: Mona unluckily gets transferred over to the enemies side in a gambit. Toxa feels he has failed and the group ends up in a trap. Misty planned to distract some of the enemies. Karis, who has been spying on the enemies the entire time, joins at the end of this segment.
Chapter 13: Misty is captured and Karis helps Toxa's group from here. They break into a museum where an Original Death Kartia is located, in order to kill off a villain elf kid by the name of Saradiart (he is Mona's brother).
Chapter 14: The Final Winner: Toxa's group finally catches up, but they go through Cross again first. Saradiart shows his strength by zapping Duran, and then Toxa uses the Original Kartia on him. Saradiart is supposedly dead, but Duran is also out of commission (he didn't die though). Misty rejoins. The mysterious Eden shows up and is colony dropped at the end of the chapter.
Chapter 15: Eden: Toxa investigates Eden and finds several Dragon phantoms to deal with.
Chapter 16: Into The Light: Toxa's group confronts Cross one last time, along with Asty, who is Misty's sister. An old elf telepathically communicates with Toxa and his group about Saradiart as well.
Chapter 17: Bond: Saradiart runs away and Toxa's group confronts the many soldiers and phantoms he left behind. At the end, Saradiart zaps Misty and Karis, but is taken out by Bachstail who uses the REAL Original Death Kartia (Toxa found a fake one it seems). Although seemingly killing Saradiart, Bachstail gives up his life and vanishes after using it (this is the price of using an original in this game).
Chapter 18: Eternity: The final confrontation with Saradiart, in which Mona removes much of his power so Toxa's group can defeat him. In the end, it seems that Mona cannot be with Toxa, but she clones herself to do so.

Lacryma Chapter 1: Meeting: Lacryma along with Troy, Kun, and Posha investigate wild phantoms in a tavern.
Chapter 2: Truth & Lies: Troy seems under arrest for stealing Kartia, but the officers turn out to be fakes, one is Zakuro, a generic fat guy, and Lacryma's group fights him. There's an easter egg treasure chest in this map as well.
Chapter 3: Protector of the Law: Zakuro is bailed out by Cross, and Rimzan joins Lacryma in defending the World Tree from Raguruzet, one of the villains (who actually is never fought again afterwards).
Chapter 4: Defense War: Zakuro is fought again. Ele and Alana help out here.
Chapter 5: Her Way: Very similar to Toxa's Chapter 5. Both Bachstail and Ele are party members for the next few missions.
Chapter 6: A Hint of Corruption: More attacking of thieves. Rimzan postpones Kun's knighting ceremony for a bit. Ele is also a permanent member of Lacryma's group now too.
Chapter 7: Part of Eden: Lacryma's group fights Zakuro again. Rimzan leaves the leadership of Vigilance to Lacryma to join the Cross Land Knights.
Chapter 8: Regret: Lacryma's group fights off some Garorks. Alana is a party member for this mission.
Chapter 9: The day she cried: Lacryma and Alana reveal more about Lacryma's past in this chapter, as well as how she looks up to her father, Kainas. The group gets back together and fights off a lot of phantoms.
Chapter 10: Quiet Stream: Misty and Duran joins in this filler arena match, while the enemies are plotting something.
Chapter 11: Silence: Lacryma eavesdrops on a conversation involving Bachstail and Bishop Aile, finding more information on her father. Meanwhile, the group fights a lot of enemy soldiers and phantoms.
Chapter 12: Inquirer: Before this chapter, Kun finds out that Vandor is actually Kainas, Lacryma's father, and that he has defected so he can create Eden. He reveals this to the others, save Lacryma, and the group fights off more soldiers in a small artillery range. Lacryma does eavesdrop on one conversation, finding out her father is alive. She also gets a pass to become an Inquirer but declines, and Bachstail reveals himself as an Inquirer to Lacryma and that Karis is his colleague.
Chapter 13: Wandering Mind: Lacryma goes into a trap set up by the enemy who capture her, and her companions fight on a river to get her back. Mona, who was also capture at the time, gives her an Original Nothingness Kartia. Karis meanwhile meets with her group.
Chapter 14: Bride of Heathen: Lacryma's group infiltrates an enemy fort to get her back while Karis unlocked her cell offscreen. She and the others fight their way to a raft. More of Lacryma's past is revealed. Apparently she was supposed to be dead the entire time, but was brought back to life due to the Original Life Kartia, used by her mother Shell, who paid her own life to get her daughter back. This in turn was what caused Kainas to become Vandor. And like Toxa's Chapter 14, Eden is dropped.
Chapter 15: Tender Lie: Here is where Kun professes that he apparently loves Lacryma. She actually decides to be an Inquirer too, and sets out to actually kill her father. Lacryma's group helps Rimzan fight off some hard phantoms.
Chapter 16: Invisible Chain: Again, more wild phantoms to kill. Assam, who was presumed dead in Toxa's chapter, is apparently alive too.
Chapter 17: End of the Dream: Lacryma finally confronts her father, while Rimzan leaves. Chapter 17 in both quests does involve both Toxa and Lacryma's group meeting up. Lacryma of course sets out against her father, but ends up not killing him, as he sees the error of his ways. He instead confronts Raguruzet.
Chapter 18: Farewell: Lacryma confronts the blue-faced insane guy, Beltshumeltz, along with Zakuro in this final battle. He does die but not after using Original Earth Kartia. Lacryma counters with Original Nothingness Kartia, where she vanishes as well. It is also revealed that she merely gets transported to Eden after using an Original (from Bachstail), and then Kainas comes and uses Original Human Kartia to get Lacryma back at the cost of him being in Eden instead. It's a somewhat bittersweet, but happy ending all the same.

These two plots were quite interesting, filled with action and romance. Two things that usually go well together no matter how cliche they can be. Grade: A.

Music: This is the low point. Mostly because I barely hear the music when playing, and second because there's really nothing interesting about the music at all. You can just play the game without music and it wouldn't matter. Grade: C.

Overall grade: A-

Good and easy gameplay for a strategy RPG, and two distinct plot paths make it better. Lots of high points, and it has some uniqueness to it. I bet you are wondering what will be #64 aren't you?