Your character's charisma can improve the chances of this occurring, but this is met with another game mechanic in the form of questions your followers ask you after battle and when entering towns. Some questions are easy to answer, but the majority of the others have backward logic and don't match up with what the player would expect.
While initially this may sound mildly annoying, it comes to a head when the game forces un-skippable group battles in your path to bar your progress. Bringing together rhythm game mechanics and button presses, it requires your gathered followers to fight against the enemy's group of followers. And unless you power-level your lower-level followers, you'll generally lose and have to retry by leaving and re-entering the dungeon (unless you load a previous save). You can get around this by unchaining higher-level monsters, but actually getting them unchained isn't easy. Thankfully the requirements are much less stringent after the first few instances, but that initial experience doesn't put forth the best impression for the player, which is unfortunate because the rhythm mechanics are quite engaging.
One of the best aspects of Unchained Blades, though, is its stat upgrade system. Unlike most dungeon RPGs which utilize pre-determined stat increases, Unchained Blades features a system similar to Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid where each playable character can develop according to the whims of the player. For example Fang can choose between mastering different classes of weapons, each with their own innate abilities and uses. None of the spaces are required, so you can easily set the difficulty on the fly as you prefer. It's easily one of the game's most welcome mechanics.
Dungeon RPGs generally aren't the flashiest in their presentation, but Unchained Blades manages to impress. Each main character was designed by a famous manga/anime artist in Japan, for example Fang being designed by Shining Force EXA's Pako. Normally one would imagine all these characters clashing with one another stylistically, but put together they all feel similar but still individually unique.
The music is headed up by the famous Nobou Uematsu who composed the opening theme with the rest of the tracks being composed by Tsutomo Narita. The boss battle track at the end of each holy ordeal is easily being one of the standout tracks. In all honesty, if you didn't know of Narita's involvement in the majority of the tracks you could easily think Uematsu composed the entire soundtrack.
And for those worrying about XSEED's English dub, which caused many to worry initially when the game was announced, there is no need to worry. There were a few characters which initially felt exceptionally out of place, but later in the game the plot provides an acceptable explanation for this which remedies the "issue".
Unchained Blades set out with the goal of mixing together the best aspects of dungeon and Japanese RPGs, and for the most part it succeeded. It won't set the genre on fire, but it does kickstart the process of advancing it. Dungeon RPG fans will likely eat this up without question, but those who don't have experience with the genre but are well-versed in Japanese RPGs should find something to enjoy here - as long as you take into consideration its lows and highs.
|» The various character designs mesh together suprisingly well.|
|» An exceptional soundtrack from a lesser-known composer.|
|» The stat upgrade system is a wonderful addition to the genre.|
|» The unchain system never seems to work in the player's favor.|
|» Those first few group battles don't give the best impression to a new player.|
|» Some of the follower's correct ansers to their questions don't make much sense.|