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RPG Review #72: Soul Nomad & the World EatersNuMetalManiak Time to end 2017 with an RPG that really got to me. I went through nineteen games last year, and from #49 to #72, well that's 23, yikes, I was considerably more productive this month! But of course, this will pretty much be my last for this year, will probably continue with this for as long as I live (of course, with the whole net neutrality repeal, I really hope a worst-case scenario doesn't happen and I can't do this anymore). So we finish 2017's RPG list with quite a bang, to the point where it became possibly my favorite RPG! Yep, Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, a turn-based strategy RPG game by Nippon Ichi, the first game by this company I have tried. This company is famous for the Disgaea series, which I of course have yet to try, but then again, looking up this on Wikipedia shows no correlation between this game and the rest of Disgaea, apart from the main hero appearing in a future game.
It doesn't matter, it was fun.
Gameplay: So this is a turn-based strategy game. You make your move on the grid, attack a foe, they counterattack. There are special skills usable in battle to give you edge, either in a battle or as a field tactic. And there's terrain, different types of units, and other things that can turn the tide of any tactical battle. The scenarios laid out in the story prove that sometimes. What I liked the most about the gameplay was the sheer customization of it.
You can buy manikins in this game, which are the different units, which can be things like soldiers, archers, pyremages, knights, nereids, saboteurs, anything you can find. And the squads are laid out in rooms, which can range in size, up to nine, three in a front, middle, or back row. Each unit has unique attacks in each row, and each unit has a leader which is the main bloodline of a unit. A unit falls once the leader does. As for the rooms, there's several types, unlocked as the game goes, each with a specialized decor for boosting stats. An always available shop is for buying other decors for more stat boosts to a room, as well as a shop for Gig Edicts, which are the main items in the game. Probably the only thing I dislike about this customization aspect is the change feature, because it's like playing the lottery as for getting the rooms you really want. What is unique and fun is the Inspection option, which is the game's equivalent to random battle simulation. Fight units at the right level for leveling up your units. I spent way too much time on this, it was a lot of fun.
In towns, you can use some Gig edicts on characters, like fight them to take cash, steal from them (don't recommend this because it never works and you lose a ton of cash) or combine with them to boost hero stats. Usually after missions many of these people have things to say. You can even use Gig edicts on the shops you can buy from, which means you gotta level up your merchant level to full, fight them, and then the shops are upgraded. It's also possible to allot experience from room points as well to enhance several characters. Overall though, Soul Nomad's gameplay focuses heavily on customization of things, and I enjoy any aspect like that. Grade: A+
Characters: This will be a long list. Many storyline characters. In game, they can be "dominated" and used in squadrons like other characters.
Revya: Can be either male or female, Revya is the default name, but this redhead wields the Onyx Blade. Also a silent protagonist, all the talking is done through...
Gig: Yes, this guy. I'm surprised the game got a T-rating given how many profanities he spews from his mouth. But he's the star of the game bar none, taking over Revya's soul (which is part of the game's name). You can use his power, but sparingly if you want a decent ending.
Danette: The green-haired childhood friend chick who wants to be a protectorate of sorts. She's pretty dumb due to lack of memory and is often called "stupid cow" by Gig.
Layna: Layna the Firebrand, some "old hag" (according to Gig) that had sealed Gig away. Not really a playable character, but important to the story nonetheless.
Levin: He reminds me of Final Fantasy VI's Gau. He's a good fist-fighter, and is often called "sister-loving man cow" by Gig because he looks after his sister and always is running head first into action.
Vitali: A cohort working with Levin. Does a good spying job, always appears out of nowhere to surprise people.
Christophe: Cool old guy with a mansion and a trader, not playable.
Euphoria: Levin's sister, they say her cooking can actually be used as a biological weapon. Not a playable character though.
Penn: Young boy who looks like a girl mostly because he was being cared for by the all-female Nereids. Obviously an NPC.
Juno: A lead commander of the Nereids and very protective of Penn, also distrustful of humans.
Alexemia: Queen of Nereids, with a healing power. Not playable.
Galahad: A Chevalier knight of the city of Raide. Distinctive because he is playable both on the normal and the Demon paths.
Thorndyke: Grand Cordon of the knights of Raide, apparently he is Penn's father (or actually Penn's real name was Richard).
Grunzford: A Redflank (read: really large battle-weary bull-like giant), who is also the wisest party member.
Endorph: A mysterious guy who wields guns and is generally cool, but is only playable for a brief moment. Apparently he was in another Nippon Ichi game, Phantom Brave, under the name of Walnut.
Shauna: A bandit leader, this Gypsy has an insufferable hatred for the poor and is one of the villains in the game.
Tricia: An archer lady with the traditional British pomp. She apparently is Grunzford's niece, wears something related to Shauna.
Odie: A self-proclaimed sorceror under the great Dio name. He's more likely a chump, who goes with his "henchmen" Vangogh (a farmer) and two Phynx (two wolves, Rockum and Sockum). Also he reminds me of Jar Jar Binks.
Cuthbert: Christophe's brother, apparently he's a criminal.
Lobo: Not a playable character, but an organizer for your character in the Demon path.
Kanan: A preacher of the faith of Thuris, which is a crazy cult. What's crazier? This preaching or the fact that "she" is a guy?
Agrippa: An angel who was taught by Endorph how to shoot a gun. Crazy, angels packing heat.
Pinot: Agrippa's girl friend of sorts. Both Agrippa and Pinot are playable in both paths.
Dio: Dio of the Evil Eye, this sorceror is said to be the most powerful ever, has the servants Blazing Gestahl and beasts Yavin and Parin. Encountered late in the story, but Odie attempts to impersonate him early on.
Diness: Queen of Orviska, you can tell this child queen is pretty much spoiled. Also an NPC.
Gestahl: This guy is more or less a zombie, needing to consume souls to fight.
Feinne: One of the three World Eaters, and the calmest. Originally known as Resilience.
Thuris: Built the cult around him and also spread this destructive disease.
Raksha: The last world eater, there was much more to him than anyone had imagined.
Layna: Yes, there's a younger version of Layna who's a playable character late in the game. Apparently she reveals that both she and Revya are also World Eaters, while they are in the land of Drazil where everyone looks suspiciously like Revya. The old Layna is actually Virtuous, some woman who defeated and sealed Gig (originally known as Vigilance) long ago.
SO MANY CHARACTERS. Many don't get a lot of development, but those in your dominion (I guess party isn't the right term) get quite a lot. There's a lot of things to see in this game that's for sure. Grade: A+
Plot: A lot to talk about here believe it or not. As I probably mentioned, there's two paths, the normal one and the Demon path, the latter is actually unlocked after you beat the game once, so finish up the longer normal one first to see it.
So how does it all happen again? We've got a hidden village, with Revya (will be using the default name here) and Danette living there, becoming warriors, then Revya comes into contact with the Onyx Blade, in which Gig was sealed, now he's a part of Revya's body! Of course, he has to make a deal, since Revya isn't entirely eager to give up his/her body so he can do his whole "Master of Death" thing. I am of course, talking as if this is all happening on the normal path of the game. Throughout, Gig's role is mostly made to be some sort of snark, as he's always vulgar and calling people names, like Danette is being called "stupid cow" all the time. Very rarely does Revya give up the body, one case of fighting the first World Eater, Fienne, has a bad ending should you choose to give it up early.
Gig also explains dominion, in which Danette and other characters become a part of Revya's group. This happens to both Levin and Vitali early on too, and they get some help from Christophe (and hotpods, some food that's a running gag and Gig absolutely LOVES these things). We also see Penn around this time, running back to Juno and the Nereids, and there's also Endorph and his gang of renegades, although Shauna eventually defects. A friendly relationship is created with the Nereids pretty soon. Also Odie is running around impersonating Dio, and failing all the time too, and then we find out Thorndyke is Penn's actual father, giving him a change of heart (though in the normal path, he isn't playable). Grunzford tags along around this point. We also see Kanan and the cult of people worshipping Thuris, who is the first World Eater to be properly battled (because Fienne was too strong). There's also this concept of Crimson Tears being scattered around, a major plot point. Later on, the king of Raide decides to use the Crimson Tear, which results in the city getting destroyed by Fienne. Fienne then gets defeated eventually though, and Galahad is the guy to rebuild the city (because Thorndyke got executed for treason).
A bit later we first run into Tricia who will help, and Odie, who's pretty much a failure up until now, will join up too. There's also Agrippa and Pinot, friends of Odie and Endorph, who are also helped along the way. Shauna is fought a couple of times, and also Levin loses track of Euphoria at some point. She's apparently at Yesterwind, where Christophe's brother Cuthbert was at. In another change of heart, Cuthbert kills Lobo, the leader, then jumps off the roof. In the meantime, there's this deadly disease, Scarlet Iago, running around. Levin, naturally, is scared for his sister, and she seems fine, until one day where she actually dies. It's revealed that Thuris is behind the disease, and after gulping his cultists, including Kanan, he is fought one last time. Thuris's last hurrah was to unleash Scarlet Iago, but everyone takes an antidote, except for Shauna, revealing herself as Trish's sister.
When it comes to the final World Eater, Revya journeys to Orviska, they all eventually get the help of the real Dio to go into that one forest which they can't get out due to some extreme magic. Of course, Dio isn't entirely a good guy. But then again, neither was Levin. I didn't see THIS betrayal coming, but Levin ends up backstabbing Layna and revealing himself as the third World Eater, Raksha. Everyone, in particular Endorph, is enraged at this, but eventually Raksha falls. We also track down Dio and open up a portal to the other world Drazil. Things get strange here, as another Layna, much younger, joins up, and there are male and female clones of Revya all over the place. The real Gestahl is met, apparently in a squabble with some higher-ups because they are utopian in nature. Gestahl decides to make his soul a part of the Onyx Blade, and eventually Drazil falls. There's a number of endings, depending on the relationship values in the game.
But that was the normal path, the Demon Path is exactly what you expect, Revya goes nuts, first killing the villagers in the village (though Layna and Danette apparently survive), then finding others to help the cause. Both Galahad and Thorndyke eventually surrender, Penn seems to like the evil, and Kanan decides your a cooler "god" than Thuris. Others who join are Lobo, Cuthbert, and Shauna, while Tricia also joins but she's apparently screwed up. Her father Hawthorne did...something to her, let's say that, and Shauna kills him for that (oh and Hawthorne gets killed by Shauna in the normal path too). Agrippa and Pinot are also captured too, as is Queen Diness, while Gestahl decides to be Revya's pawn as well. It seems that this demon empire (called BFF by Gig, yeah it's super lame) is doing strong, but of course, the main heroes of the game are to revolt (along with the real Dio, who had been dominated a bit earlier because he needed Gestahl), including the two angels, in which Agrippa is killed. Things get insane around this point. Trish apparently commits suicide, making Shauna mad. Thorndyke presumably kills Penn (though Penn is actually alive regardless). And Levin the Undying rallies the revolters. They are all easily defeated, save Levin, who of course is Raksha, and apparently LIKES the heroism now. Danette also makes a sacrifice to become a Crimson Tear. Two endings to the Demon Path: Win the final battle, then Gig is devoured and Revya, no Devourlord as his/her name would be makes his/her way to conquer and obliterate Drazil (which is where that line I put up was from). Or lose that battle, to see a somewhat more heartwarming ending.
Geez, with the multiple endings and the numerous interactions, I have to say there was a lot to this game. The game got serious when it got serious, the betrayals and join-ups were exciting, and the comedy, while most of it vulgar thanks to the very hammy Gig, was worthwhile. Grade: A+
Music: And surprise! The music was really good as well. The usage of instruments was worthwhile. I especially enjoy the orchestrated violin pieces and all that. Each of the World Eaters gets a unique theme in their cutscenes and battles, with some eerie chanting in each of them (Thuris in particular). A few theme remixes too. It all makes a great soundtrack. Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A+
Are you surprised? Yep, this is now my favorite RPG. I have to say, it's not very well known, but it ought to be. Good customization leads to a good RPG, and an engaging plot and characters add to that. Music is also quite engaging. Loved all of it.