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Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time Review

Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time Review

Atlus' Growlanser series has had a sizable following in Japan, but when it came to North America the series could never seem to catch a break. It wasn't until 2004 that the second and third titles in the series came to North America via Working Designs, with the fifth title coming via Atlus in 2007. Since then, however, the series was dead - until this year's release of the PSP enhanced port of the forth title known simply as Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time. Is its eclectic mix of real-time battles, shiny anime-inspired character designs worth your time? For most, the answer is probably yes.

Wayfarer of Time tells the story of a young man named Crevanille who was taken in by a gang of mercenaries as an orphan when he was a child. He was told since he was young that he was special in some way, but nothing ever came of it. That is, until a routine mission on a nearby island goes wrong after Angels come out from the sky and start destroying everything in sight. It's later revealed that the angels are set to destroy mankind once again following their last attempt 2,000 years ago.

Much like many other Japanese-style RPGs the story becomes more involved as time goes on as Crevanille finds out that he has the power to fight against the Angels. Unfortunately though, how the game goes about revealing this in the early hours doesn't exactly give the best initial impression to the player. Following a good first hour the game switches gears entirely and drags to a slow crawl until several hours later when the story finally picks back up and generally keeps on building from there.

It's understandable that with all of the game's finer intricacies (which will be discussed later) there would need to be some in-depth tutorials, but it overstays its welcome a tad bit too long for most gamers. Once you surpass that initial lull, however, the game really starts to shine. Bigger and better plot points are revealed, some intriguing dating-sim elements are introduced and the game's battle system really starts to open up.

As stated earlier, Wayfarer of Time's battle system revolves around real-time actions, but not in the manner you might initially expect. Instead of directly controlling your units, you input commands are similar to a turn-based strategy RPG. When you encounter an enemy (all enemies outside of pre-scripted battles are visible on the screen so you can evade them if you wish), a menu pops up letting you set your units' actions. This can range from setting waypoints for moving to another area on the map to picking a nearby enemy to attack physically or via magic. From here on out the game plays out these choices in real-time and continually repeats until you issue them a new command or when the enemy they targeted perishes.

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