Over the years, strategy role playing games have provided a way for fans to become more engaged in the combat experience, forcing the player to think about how each move will count. Of course, this has been managed in many different ways, with franchises like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics leading the way. Generation of Chaos: Pandora's Reflection on the other hand, seems to take a simpler, toned down approach and breaks away from all of the norms one is expected to see in well-loved SRPG titles; for better and worse.
Generation of Chaos: Pandora's Reflection is the 6th instilment in the Generation of Chaos series on PSP. The story revolves around Claude an Alchemist who is travelling together with his sick sister Yuri in order to find precious alchemical ingredients to make medicine for her. As the story unfolds, the two become locked in a huge conflict filled with betrayal and quite a few surprises. The plot is well thought out, but it still feels very cliched in certain areas. It falls into the trope of save this person, save the world; in this case it's about a boy who goes on a journey to save a sister, but ends up becomes an object of power that others want as his or her own.
For those who don't speak Japanese since there is no English dub and it means there's a lot of reading. The dialog is nicely translated, aside from the fact that on one instance a male character is made into a female in text. It could be that the person translating made a mistake, but it seems this could have been avoided if research was done even if a character is shown briefly.
It does seem like there was a big of a missed trick - dialog often takes place between battles and isn't very engaging or entertaining. It feels more like a big chore to just read it. It would have been a good addition to the game to have English voices so less reading would ensue.
The actual combat of the game is set out on a grid-based map. Each map can have different terrain that changes the speed at which characters move, as well as damaging them if they walk through a certain area. There is even a night and day implemented into each fight that also has an effect on movement positively and negative depending on the character.
Your characters appear as little sprites and must move toward a set location capturing points to be able to add another player to the map. The maximum number of players that can be on the map at one time is 5. You can also capture certain points on the map to make the enemy retreat, but be warned they can also take over the points you have and send your units back as well. It's kind of annoying watching you characters move slowly and you sometimes wish the terrain disadvantage aspect didn't exist, but it's all part of the strategy.
Once you and an enemy meet with each other on the map a battle sequence begins, and this determines who will attack first. From here, your character can pick their weapon and this is actually quite interesting. The game will tell you if a weapon is bad, good, and even if they are even. It's much like a game of rock paper scissors. After landing your attack a field will appear and if another one of your units is standing in it you can press the corresponding button to have them attack as well. This becomes quite tedious as these button combinations become engraved into your mind after a while after doing them so many times. It's safe to say that this gets old.
On the bright side, leveling up between fights is done very well. Characters gain experience points or AP but they also get even more depending on how much they participated in the fights. The points you get are used for alchemy that creates items, gives upgrades for your gear and also heals everyone in your party. There is also a feature that names one character the MVP of the battle. Overall this system works very well and is the one of the game's strong points.
Graphically the game has some pretty nice character designs and even the minor minions don't look super generic. It's great to see nice art during character interactions, but as previously mentioned, the boring dialog makes this part of the game less enjoyable. The music is kind of nice, but it isn't memorable enough.
Overall Generation of Chaos Pandora's Reflection is a toned down SRPG that is a good choice for people who want an easy to understand experience with no strings attached. However, players will find that the real challenge lies in effectively moving your characters in on the map and not in the actual battles themselves. There are some decent concepts here, but also quite few that fall a bit flat.
|» Non-generic character designs|
|» Streamlined and interesting level up system|
|» Easy to get into|
|» No English dub|
|» Lacklustre story|
|» Battle system becomes tedious when playing the game in large doses|