Purging the Entoma Scourge

A devastating blight upon the land.

Death end re;Quest is a ludicrously bizarre JRPG where strange occurrences in a virtual world slowly bleed into reality. Our amnesiac protagonist arrives in World’s Odyssey, an abandoned VR MMORPG that shouldn’t be running but somehow is, and fights desperately against the encroaching Entoma Scourge as she attempts to active the Ending Engage. Which is now the only way to log out and return to reality. Not that it’s ever going to be as simple as finishing the main campaign, as relentless opposition alters the fate of both worlds in an attempt to prevent her from reaching her goal.

It can also be quite a harrowing experience for all concerned.

As many of the worst possible outcomes heavily suggest graphic violence, which you’d not expect from this developer. It’s an unconventional approach that encourages you to explore different outcomes. Some of which may help to explain how certain characters are not what they seem to be.

There are some rather unconventional character development mechanics, too. While you primarily level up through the acquisition of experience points, new skills are learned by chaining together different combinations of existing skills. It’s an unusual mechanic which promotes experimentation instead of mindless grinding. You can also chain together three basic attacks to knock enemies back, allowing you to throw them across the field of battle into other party members who will respond in kind. It can be fairly satisfying to watch when executed correctly. Not every skill is effective in every situation, though. Each skill (and basic attack) is of a particular affinity that can counter (or be countered by) enemy affinities, which adds meaningful variation to combat as you’ll usually face enemies of different affinities in the same encounter.

So you shouldn’t be afraid of shuffling party members around to match the current encounters. Certain characters will be almost entirely ineffective against certain enemies. Given that, when an enemy counters an affinity, the skill is cancelled and the whole chain is rendered useless. You won’t even be able to deal any damage. Characters can learn skills of different affinities, but they might be more expensive or less accessible than those of their usual affinity. This makes balanced party compositions vital to continued success. Most characters are able to heal themselves or those around them, though.

Which means that healing should always be available.

I was pleasantly surprised by how extensive the mechanics proved to be, as I wasn’t expecting combat to be as engaging as it was. I’m also glad that Glitch Mode is a temporary form with heightened statistics, rather than a persistent transformation that could be freely activated when needed.

Activating the form feels more sporadic and akin to an actual glitch. But it’s also more dangerous to utilise. As a character needs to accrue a significant amount of corruption to activate Glitch Mode, and too much corruption can lead to their immediate death. So taking damage just before (or just after) activating the form is risky. But you can’t really control when that happens. That’s why I believe that Death end re;Quest is an unconventional but incredibly capable JRPG which, while it may not be appropriate for everyone, has reasonably innovative mechanics throughout, and it’s clear that the developers wanted to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience. I’d highly recommend it to JRPG enthusiasts and to those looking for something different. I’m certain that you won’t be disappointed if you approach it with an open mind.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Earth’s Greatest Champion

An unparalleled martial artist.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an exceptionally entertaining JRPG which retells the story of Dragon Ball Z and allows you to fish, hunt, train, and fight as (or alongside) Goku and friends. You’re actively encouraged to explore and to engage in as many activities as possible, and to experience everything its vast world has to offer as you spend time as different characters. Nothing compares to the indescribable joy of watching Vegeta fish on Namek. Saiyans generally use a prosthetic tail to fish as most have lost their actual tail, but as Vegeta doesn’t have a prosthetic tail he resigns himself to a fishing rod.

One so sturdy that it can withstand his otherworldly strength.

Those familiar with Dragon Ball Z know that it rarely took itself seriously, and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot perfectly represents the source material through outlandish side quests and the greatest cooking animations ever witnessed. The costumes for characters have been faithfully reproduced, too.

However, due to the nature of the source material, story progression is fairly linear as it needs to result in the intended outcome. Which is to be expected. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get the opportunity to spend time as your favourite characters, as there are numerous character development mechanics present. You’ll mostly be gaining experience through combat, but you’ll also be training to learn new skills, and collecting Soul Emblems to enhance the various Community Boards. Of these the Community Boards are the most deceptively complex, and each requires a varying amount of investment to unlock bonuses. You’ll also be afforded various statistical increases when cooking delicious food. Not that the statistical increases offered by food tend to be significant enough to warrant the sheer amount of farming required.

Community Boards arguably offer the best statistical increases, but they also take the longest to unlock. While food is readily available throughout. Yet the statistical increases from food prove to be fairly underwhelming. I’ve considered this before, and it highlights how diversification between various character development mechanics yields better results than focusing solely on one. I’m glad that there is such a wealth of content available, though. Being able to shuffle Soul Emblems around, hunt beasts for feasts, unearth rare minerals, and defeat strong enemies keeps the content engaging.

It’s certainly exceeded any prior expectations, too.

I’m intrigued to see how the developers expand upon existing content, and would welcome additional transformations from Dragon Ball Super. Original content based on characters or events from Dragon Ball wouldn’t go amiss, either. They’ve certainly got enough source material to draw from.

As with Dragon Ball XenoVerse before it, I was wary of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Not because I had any doubts that the developers could create a captivating experience. But because the source material has been told, retold, and retold again. It’s slightly tired. It’s also something that’s quite dear to me. However, I can confidently say that this iteration of the events of Dragon Ball Z is as faithful as I’d hoped it would be. I’ve enjoyed every second that I’ve spent reliving my childhood. Not that I’ve been blinded by nostalgia. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an excellent experience for what it is, and if you approach it with those expectations you can’t really be disappointed. It might not be as engaging to those who have never seen Dragon Ball Z before. But I have no regrets regarding the purchase and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

The Legendary Super Saiyan

Krillin’s greatest death to date.

Arguably one of the most iconic moments in Dragon Ball Z is when Goku first attains the legendary Super Saiyan transformation. Not only was he able to face Frieza for the longest five minutes known to man, but it exemplified how he was pure of heart yet brimming with uncontrollable rage when he finally unleashed his colossal strength. I’m also rather fond of the Super Saiyan 3 transformation. That was slightly less iconic (and the form was used far less often) but it was an enjoyable moment nonetheless. I do wonder how many hours of unbridled screaming his voice actor has recorded, though.

It must be hundreds of hours at this point.

I’ve always dearly loved Dragon Ball Z and it has provided an unending source of inspiration for my creative pursuits, which is why I’ve been highly anticipating the release of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. While also not-so-secretly wishing that they’d re-release Chrono Trigger in a similar fashion.

Imperfect Cell kind of looks like a lankier and less mechanical version of Lavos. That thought has consumed me while I’ve been training for the final confrontation with Perfect Cell, and explains why I want to defeat him. 1999 A.D. won’t suffer the same fate twice. I’ve completed far too many side quests, cooked too many meals, and fished for far longer than I should have to fail now. Not that I was entirely aware of the benefits of cooking meals at first. I thought that they were only providing the temporary buff, but they were also permanently increasing various statistics. Not that the increase is particularly notable. Investing in the appropriate Community Boards yields a more favourable long term return, as the percentage increase is more substantial than the increases offered by food. Unless you’re cooking literally thousands of meals.

That’ll always be you, Vegeta.

That’s not to say that hunting beasts and fishing is pointless. Cooking can substantially strengthen characters when they’re about to face dangerous bosses, and various items acquired through either pursuit can be sold at a premium. The Community Boards can also be more difficult to invest in. Given that you’ll need multiple Soul Emblems and many of those can only be acquired through side quests. Access to which usually requires story progression. As such I’ve found the Cooking and Development Community Boards to be challenging, as few early Soul Emblems are naturally proficient in either.

Not that you gain access to R & D for some time.

I’m quite glad that character development requires careful consideration of numerous mechanics, though. You’re not expected to simply grind for experience. You’re encouraged to explore new locations, meet characters, complete the side quests, collect the Dragon Balls, and have fun instead.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot provides a fresh approach to a somewhat tired source material. I’ve enjoyed being able to experience the story from multiple perspectives through different characters, and being able to bring those party members together to complete any available side quests during the intermissions. Goku is notably absent (or dead) for the majority of Dragon Ball Z. So it does make sense that you’d be able to spend time as Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, and others when the titular character is not available. It also keeps combat engaging, as each character behaves differently and develops at a different rate. I’m interested in seeing what they do with the season pass, too. Whether it would be entirely new content or whether it would introduce certain events from Dragon Ball Super. But I guess that we’ll just have to wait and see.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Successors of the Queen

Of which we may be one.

Code Vein is a delightfully engaging post-apocalyptic JRPG that offers a fresh perspective on the genre. It has extensive character development mechanics which afford surprising freedom when building your character, and an impressive selection of (both Light and Dark) Gifts to make use of each weapon class and each style of Blood Veil. Character classes take the form of Blood Codes, and each Blood Code represents a particular concept. Atlas, for instance, is a heavily defensive Blood Code which has impressive damage resistance and utilises two-handed swords to deal ridiculous damage.

However, if you prefer, you can utilise polearms instead.

You’ll be unable to use Tormenting Blast (as that requires a two-handed sword or hammer), but you’ll be able to benefit from the weight allowance and scaling offered by the Blood Code. You could then further customise Atlas with a Blood Veil to cast Light Gifts despite a lack of inherent proficiency.

It’s slightly confusing at first glance, but once you understand how each of the mechanics contributes to the build it becomes an incredibly satisfying experience. My only (minor) criticism of Blood Codes is that they’re unlocked as you progress through the story. While you would expect this, certain Blood Codes, like Dark Knight, are so flexible and interesting that you wish they were available earlier. Very few Blood Codes that specialise in physical damage are inherently proficient at casting Gifts, and fewer still have good (base) Strength scaling. Both Mind and Willpower have reasonably high scaling, too. So it could utilise either Light or Dark Gifts with the appropriate Blood Veil. I’ll admit that I might be slightly biased towards Dark Knight, as I greatly appreciated Polearm Mastery and enjoyed obliterating enemies with Chariot Rush.

The scorching heat of the Crown of Sand.

Thankfully, due to an abundance of upgrade materials, you can easily adjust your equipment if you do decide to pursue a different Blood Code. You’ll also find upgraded equipment in chests as you progress through the story. Inheriting Gifts may become difficult if you’re constantly shuffling Blood Codes, but you can always visit the Depths to farm the necessary materials or defeat countless enemies. You can also acquire a selection of transformed equipment down there. Not that I found many of the transformations to be useful for my build, besides Fortification were I to block damage.

But I can certainly see the appeal of the transformations.

My only other criticism of Code Vein is the boss encounters. I’ve written about them before, but I’m not particularly fond of the excessive health that bosses have. Were they to have slightly less health they’d be more fun to fight. Especially if you’re not employing the use of a companion.

I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect from Code Vein, but I was pleasantly surprised by how innovative the character development felt. There were several mechanics which meaningfully contributed to your build. While the variety of equipment expanded the character development by enabling the use of many diverse builds, all of which could draw from myriad Blood Codes. The levelling mechanics are perfectly suited to shuffling Blood Codes, too. You’re never committing to a specific approach. You can quite easily adapt to a new weapon class or a new Blood Veil, and that allows you to freely exercise the unique benefits of a particular Blood Code. Code Vein is not a traditional JRPG, but it’s an excellent example of when developers deliver a truly unique experience. For that reason I’d highly recommend it to JRPG enthusiasts!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

An Unrelenting Onslaught

Savagery raging unabated.

I’m not really that surprised by the hostility, as I’ve been wielding a sizeable polearm for the majority of this adventure and I’ve not been shy about using it. Before that I was wielding a ridiculously huge two-handed sword. But, despite the impressive damage potential, it was simply too slow for me to feel comfortable fighting with it. It was rather effective at blocking damage, though. Not that I’d intended this build to be proficient at blocking. Despite my preferred Blood Codes being Berserker, Hermes, Atlas, and Fionn which are all suited to blocking with their inherent damage resistance.

But I preferred dealing damage to tanking it.

Then I unlocked Chariot Rush and decided that I’d never desire anything but the exhilarating thrill of rolling away from lethal damage. Not that I was always successful in that endeavour. But that’s the fault of the bosses and their ridiculous damage potential, and not the fault of my reflexes.

In all seriousness, I’m not particularly fond of how bosses can kill you instantly with a handful of their attacks. It wouldn’t be as frustrating if they didn’t have an abundance of health. But they do. The majority of bosses are not necessarily difficult, but the encounters quickly become tedious as you slowly chip away at their health knowing that one mistake could end that attempt. It’s certainly a way to make things more difficult, but it’s not entirely fun. If the bosses had slightly less health the encounters would feel better. They’d be fun. You wouldn’t even mind the possibility of being instantly killed. But instead (the majority) feel like they’re being artificially extended by the ridiculous health that bosses have. With the considerable damage polearms (or two-handed swords) do, I can’t imagine how tedious they would be with a bayonet.

As dangerous as it is beautiful.

That’s my only significant criticism of Code Vein, though. Otherwise the world is vast and enjoyable to explore, while the bosses are rather delightfully tailored to the locations that they’re fought in. Care and attention definitely went into designing the different areas as well, as each poses specific challenges and feels wonderfully unique. You’ll need to adjust your Gifts as you explore to counter various environmental hazards, too. It’s a refreshing approach that makes locations memorable. Even if those memories are ones you’d rather not recall, as you were suffering throughout.

Then again, they’re still the best memories of being on vacation that I have.

Of the other mechanics present in Code Vein, I’m enthused by the Blood Codes. I adore how much flexibility they afford when building characters. There are very few Gifts that can’t be inherited, and being able to draw from multiple Blood Codes to form your build is a satisfying experience.

I’ve greatly appreciated how the developers have attempted to be innovative through (surprisingly) coherent mechanics, and I’ve found the overall experience to be a pleasant one so far. It’s been fun, too. Which I wish I could say more often than I do. Unfortunately, it would seem that longevity outweighs enjoyment in (the majority of) video games nowadays. But Code Vein is an excellent example of when developers choose to prioritise engaging mechanics over never-ending content, and it delivers a rather unique post-apocalyptic JRPG as a result of it. I’m hoping that the developers will consider a sequel as it certainly deserves one. I’d be interested to see what they do next. Whether it would be more of the same, or whether they would diversify with something entirely new set in the same (or a similar) universe.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Chrono Trigger: To Far Away Times (Pt. 6)

The first festival of the stars.

We travelled back to 1000 A.D. to begin our first assault on the Black Omen. A foreboding structure looming overhead fuelled by Lavos’ limitless power and as threatening as that notion would suggest, as we would need to face countless fiends and defeat several bosses to reach Queen Zeal. I wasn’t aware that you could clear the Black Omen multiple times, either. If you first assault it in 1000 A.D., then 600 A.D., and finally 12,000 B.C. you’re able to amass considerable rewards. Especially if Ayla uses Charm on Queen Zeal as she can acquire a Prismatic Helm and a Prismatic Dress.

Allowing you to effectively skip four New Game+ attempts.

With these I was able to equip every character (besides Magus who has unique equipment) with a Prismatic Helm, and each appropriate character with a Prismatic Dress. Meaning that I have no use for the Rainbow Shell in New Game+ besides acquiring additional pairs of Prism Spectacles.

That this is even a possibility is why I feel that Chrono Trigger is the greatest JRPG of all time. There are few video games with meaningful time travel mechanics, but Chrono Trigger finds multiple ways to make them meaningful. From accessing sealed chests in 600 A.D. to acquire better rewards in 1000 A.D., to being able to grow an entirely new forest in 1000 A.D., to being able to clear the Black Omen multiple times. There are so many ways in which the developers didn’t just consider time travel mechanics, but made them viable and interesting with unique results each time. I’m also inclined to believe that the developers intended for you to be able to obtain multiple Prismatic Helms and Prismatic Dresses, as Queen Zeal is the only boss that you can fight multiple times in the Black Omen. The rest stay defeated.

No longer will this continue.

Clearing the Black Omen (in 1000 A.D.) was easier than it should have been having brought Chrono, Frog, and Ayla along. It’s a good party. They’ve got excellent physical damage potential, reasonably good healing potential, and they’re not terrible with magical damage. It relies mostly on Chrono casting Luminaire to deal the majority of their magical damage, but Frog can also cast Water or Water II. For the aforementioned reasons I felt that they’d be suited to the final confrontation with Lavos. I’m also wondering whether Chrono and Marle could defeat Lavos at the Millennial Fair.

Chrono may even be able to solo Lavos.

I’d probably swap his Prism Spectacles for the Silver Stud, though. Being able to cast Luminaire (and Raise if we bring Marle along) more often would be useful, but his damage potential via the critical hits afforded by Rainbow is substantial and we would be sacrificing that. So I’m not entirely sure.

Chrono, Frog, and Ayla met with few difficulties in the final confrontation with Lavos. I was mostly using Chrono for physical damage with the occasional Luminaire, while Frog and Ayla alternated between physical damage or healing. I wasn’t really using that many Techs, as I was holding back in case I needed them for later phases. It turns out that (like many others) it was a shorter encounter than I remember it to be. But I’ll have the opportunity to fight Lavos many more times, and with many different party compositions as I work towards unlocking all of the endings. In any case, this post concludes the time I’ve spent with Chrono Trigger on Moggie’s Proclamations. Chrono Trigger is still one of the greatest JRPGs I’ve ever played (even after twenty years) and I highly recommend it to JRPG enthusiasts!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Chrono Trigger: To Far Away Times (Pt. 5)

Treasures unlike those we’ve seen before.

Now that the Epoch is capable of flight we can finally begin to explore the world in search of side quests and legendary equipment. Being able to open sealed chests and doors helps, too. As there are many unique accessories in 2300 A.D. that were previously inaccessible but are now easily acquired. Among those is the Golden Stud. An exceptionally useful accessory that significantly reduces the MP cost of Techs. We were also able to acquire the Red Plate (in 1000 A.D.) and the Red Vest (in 600 A.D.) from Guardia Castle, both of which will be useful when acquiring the Sun Stone.

The Northern Ruins is another priority.

Not only are there a few sealed chests which contain unique equipment, but by rebuilding and fully exploring the Northern Ruins you can unlock the true Masamune. This will require visits to both 600 A.D. and 1000 A.D. but it’s worth it. As Frog’s damage potential will increase exponentially.

After this it’s advisable to begin searching for the Rainbow Shell and the Sun Stone. One of which is buried deep in 600 A.D. amongst familiar enemies, while the other is to be unearthed in 2300 A.D. following a rather challenging boss battle. The Rainbow Shell is one of the few reasons to repeatedly finish New Game+, as many of the rewards are available in limited quantity. The Sun Stone is initially used to create the Wondershot (arguably Lucca’s best weapon) along with the Sunglasses. When both the Rainbow Shell and Sun Stone are acquired you’ll gain access to Rainbow (Chrono’s best weapon) and the Prism Spectacles. Many of the choices made will depend on the equipment you currently possess, and if you’re playing New Game+ you may already have some of the rewards.

True strength comes when hesitation is lost.

I feel as though I’ve made the best choices for my party as they currently are. Having found the Zodiac Cape and crafted three Prismatic Helmets, I’ve now got multiple characters with the highest resistance to magical damage that they can have. While Chrono now lands critical hits absurdly often. Marle has the Golden Stud and Magus has the Silver Stud, which drastically improves their potential to use Techs. I’ve also kept the Hero’s Badge on Frog to improve his critical hit chance. Ayla is boosting her Charm proficiency with the Alluring Top, and Robo temporarily has the Flea Bustier.

I’ll find something better suited to Robo later.

I may have also discovered a new favourite team. Chrono, Frog, and Ayla are a force to be reckoned with. Slurp Kiss (a Dual Tech between Frog and Ayla) recovers health to the party more substantially than Aura Whirl does, while each member of the party has incredible physical damage potential.

I’ll be taking this party into the Black Omen. I think they’ll do just fine. I’m slightly concerned that I may require magical damage for certain enemies or bosses, but I’ve always got Chrono and Frog to rely on for that. I’m also beginning to wonder if it’s possible to defeat the bosses of the Black Omen in 1000 A.D., 600 A.D., and 12,000 B.C. as the rewards would be substantial. It’ll take a little longer but I think it’ll be worth it. Once we’ve successfully cleared the Black Omen we’ll be drawing close to the final confrontation with Lavos. I’ll need to decide on which party will best counter his considerable strength, and then begin to think about what I’ll be aiming to do with New Game+ besides unlock new endings. Let’s not be too hasty, though. We’ve yet to secure this future let alone any others.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie