Agarest – Generations of War is the latest strategy RPG title to be released on the PC via steam. The game was ported to the PC by European Publisher Ghostlight, known for releasing the Agarest Series as well as the Shin Megami Tensei series for consoles. If you never picked up Agarest before should you be picking it up and If you have already owned it, should you be getting it again.?
The game follows the story of Leonhardt, an officer for the Gridamas army who chooses to follow his own fate after witnessing a fellow officer attempting to kill a young child. This ends in his failure as the mysterious, overwhelming Dark Knight almost kills him with ease. While dying, he feels the regret of not being able to save the child and is encountered by a mysterious woman, Dyshana. She offers Leo a covenant to give him the power he desires as long as he devotes his and his descendant’s souls to her. Agreeing to the covenant shapes destiny of Leonhardt and all his descendants as they help save the world from the forces of evil.
This is where one of the game’s most exciting and distinctive features comes into play, the soul breeding system. The game itself is split into five different generations, with you having a new main character in each generation. This character is the offspring of your previous main character and one of three female party members. Dependent on different routes you take through the game and options you pick, affection will increase of decrease with 3 female party members. The appearance, stats and weapon of your next main character is all dependent on not only the mother you choose, but also the level of affection you have with her. Fear not about venturing into the unknown as there is a service in town that allows you to see what your child will look like as well and their stats and weapons. When the game’s story shifts between the generations, it is well exicuted with some characters having their appearance change, new characters appearing, new clothing styles and different world issues.
One thing that that you can’t avoid is the game’s fanservice. When one of the game’s main focuses is to have children with your female party members and some of them can have only two belts and a 1 inch zip covering their decency, it’s something you can’t avoid but mention. While a few of the characters in the game might have slightly questionable outfits, the fanservice content is segregated from the main plot. Any fanservice is contained with separate events listed on the map. These are reached dependent on which path you choose but also the amount of time it takes to get there. Sometimes these events include a cg scene to go with them, which I can say is worth the effort. The content is never explicit and only ever suggestive even at the end of generations when you make your next descendant with your wife. While the all cg scenes may be one sided, the fanservice certainly isn’t, with male characters looking just as good as their female counterparts. All in all, promotional videos may look like there is content coming out of every crevice, but it takes itself very seriously while still managing to keep it’s fun.
While you may come for the fanservice, you will stay for the gameplay. The combat system is tactical and can be customized. Characters have certain squares where they will link up with fellow party members, allowing them to attack the same time. Characters can link skills together to perform special skills, dealing more damage than they normally would. Linking is vital to success making use of the break and overkill mechanics. Monsters have a break bar that acts like a shield, receiving less damage while it is still up. Once the bar is depleted, attacks deal extra damage. Once an enemie’s hp bar is depleted, it starts to fill up again in another colour until it is overkilled. For overkilling an enemy you receive bonus items, many of which can only be obtained via the overkill and are necessary for upgrades. With each fight on the map taking up a day, if you wish to see the timed events on the map, get bonus affection and possible CGs, you can’t afford to grind and need to use this system to it’s fullest.
While the system itself is fulfilling with lots to do, when doing normal 8 battles in a row to progress the plot, it can get a bit tedious. The game features an auto option that will complete fights for you. The AI won’t necessarily do a better job than you but if the combat system starts to become a bit to much, the option is always there. I find the combat system much more enjoyable in event and boss fights where you gain the most from overkilling and speed rather than random encounters.
Unlike most RPGs and strategy games, you don’t buy you weapons and equipment but make them at the blacksmith via the alchemy system. You can buy and find numerous crafting books on your adventure that give you recipes to make new items. Once an item has been made, it is then added to the item shop to be bought again in future. Most weapons and armor require you to have items from overkilled enemies which will drive you insane if you haven’t been doing it. It also costs a lot of gold and you will quickly find yourself running out. You will find yourself skimping, selling materials or using the game’s monster capture system in order to get more more.
The monster capture system allows you to capture an enemy monster in combat if the ability is used on them while at low health. Players then have the ability to either sell the monster at market for much needed gold or make them a party member to fight by your side. With some characters carrying on between generations, I found using a monster in the party not necessary. Capturing them for money however is incredibly useful but also incredibly hard. It is difficult to gauge just how low the monster’s hp should be for capture and the ability won’t work if you accidentally kill them.
On the PC you can play using the keyboard and mouse or gamepad. Although I opted for the gamepad as it is my preferred way of gaming, the keyboard is strongly supported. In the options menu there is a section to remap you keys to your personal preferences. In all the menus in the game, the buttons for both gamepad and keyboard are also listed at the bottom of the screen. One feature I like on the PC version is the ability to toggle DLC on and off. DLC is available from the steam shop including free DLC which is included with the game. When you start a new game, you can choose which DLC you wish to have which is really useful for people wanting to replayand make sure they have a real challenge. I found the fear of not wondering if your DLC had disappeared after usage was really refreshing compared to the console release of the game. The version of the game that was used for the PC port was the American Xbox 360 version which has never been made available outside the country. This means that the version contains improved North American translation, rebalanced turn counter, new background images and the more powerful versions of the DLC items compared to their PS3 counterparts. Having played Agarest on the Ps3, one of the main differences to me was actually the distance from the screen. I found playing Agarest on the PC rather than the TV a much more enjoyable experience. For those who love achievements, there is a variety of achievements available in the game including steam badges for the truly dedicated.
Strategy RPG fans will find themselves spoiled with Agarest. With the game lasting for at least 60 hours, free downloadable extra dungeons in each generation, customizable skill system, monster capturing, soul breeding and item enhancement; there is plenty for you to do and it is all actually very interesting. For not so hardcore fans, you do have the option to just buy the most powerful DLC equipment and leave the game on auto; just enjoying the game’s stories and interactions. With Agarest’s price being a real steal, it is the most definitive version of the game which I actually enjoyed playing more than it’s PS3 counterpart.
– Wide variety of characters
– Fanservice in moderation
– Soul Breeding
– An in-depth combat system
– Multiple plot paths
– Plenty of game time for your money
– A well executed port
– Repetitive Fights
– You NEED to alchemize
Agarest – Generations of War is available to buy on Steam for £14.99