If there's one genre that's had no shortage of titles on the PlayStation Vita as of late, it's easily the dungeon crawler RPG genre. From the same developer behind the other recent title Stranger of Sword City, Ray Gigant is another game cut from the same cloth but in a much different vein. Instead of the typical "create your own party from a designated set of classes" mantra, this game mixes in visual novel type elements and pre-defined characters.
Ray Gigant follows the actions of three main characters: Ichiya, Kyle and Nil. Their world has been ravaged by mysterious creatures known as "Gigants". But it turns out that they wield the power to fight against these creatures using sentient amulets called "Yorigami", of which have their own unique personalities of their own.
It's an interesting setup, and quite a deviation from the usual basic setup one has come to expect from Experience's other offerings. The storyline is split into three sections giving each of the three main characters their own time in the spotlight, although the developer smartly decided to do this in the way of switching viewpoints instead of retracing the same events over again with different characters.
acttil's localization as a whole is pretty well done, considering the character and narrative focus in Ray Gigant, although there's times when I felt the game resorted to overusing a character's quirk to an unnecessary extent. Perhaps this was something that existed in the original Japanese dialogue as well, but that doesn't give an excuse for it. I liked the overall narrative as a whole, although it did flounder a bit towards the end "” the fact that the epilogue is tied to a second playthrough doesn't help this much either.
Of course, this being a dungeon RPG, there's also the dungeon exploring element of the game to talk about. When compared to Experience's other recent game Stranger of Sword City, it's an interesting comparison in a number of ways. On one hand, the dungeons feel like their aimed at players who might not be used to a full-on hardcore dungeon RPG and may be coming from a more visual-novel or standard RPG entry.
You can only travel to a single dungeon at a time, with a singular task at hand in said dungeon. Your party makeup is determined by the events going on at the time, so the game won't leave you without the party members that it thinks you'll need to succeed given enough leveling. In addition, monsters are visible on the map instead of being random encounters, so there's no issues of running into a mob of monsters and losing a ton of progress due to bad RNG. Also, following battles your party member's HP is fully healed.
By doing this, however, it let Experience try out some unique and different approaches for floors in the dungeons that otherwise wouldn't be possible or fair in a "typical" dungeon RPG. In my opinion it's a worthwhile trade-off, although some fans of the genre might disagree.
Battles in Ray Gigant also vary a bit from the usual norm. Instead of the usual mechanic of each character getting one move in a round, there's an "Action Point" (AP) system that maxes out at 100 points with each character getting up to five actions at a time (six after the first dungeon). Four of these must be offensive, while the other two must be defensive (i.e. heal, block, eat).
The added wrinkle is the "Parasite Mode" and "Slash Beat Mode" elements. The former comes into play every 10 rounds you fail to defeat the opponent (with it carrying over into following battles). Once you enter this mode, you stop using AP and instead drain your health when you take actions. To exit this mode, you need to defeat the opponent or enter the latter mode, which is essentially a "super attack" in the form of a rhythm mini-game where you deal more damage the better you are at it. There's a short and long version of the Slash Beat Mode, as well as it differing depending on which character is using it.
Speaking of that food system that was mentioned earlier, it plays a role into a character's current strength and speed. A hungry character may be quicker but weaker, whereas a full character may be slower but stronger. It's a minor element, but it a nice touch.
Similar to Final Fantasy X, there's not really your typical experience system at play in Ray Gigant. Similar to that game's Sphere Grid, Ray Gigant has a skill tree system which lets you unlock new equipment, moves and recipes by using gems you obtain via treasure chests or drops from monsters following battles, from these six varieties: Force, Seed, Breed, Materia, Alter and Reverse. Seed and Force level up and unlock new abilities, while Alter and Reverse can re-spec your character if you made a mistake along the way. Materia lets you raise the level of a character's attack, defense, speciality or cooking skills. Lastly, Breed unlocks new equipment or raises the level of your current equipment, although the latter is somewhat random depending on where you activate it on the current branch.
Graphically, it's certainly unique in its art style. Some may find the angle the characters are placed on the battle screen to be a bit odd, although in my experience I didn't notice it that often. The music has a nice bizarre feel to it that matches the tone and feel of the game nicely as well.
If the current crop of dungeon RPGs has felt a bit same-y to you as of late and you want to try something different, Ray Gigant's unique approach is worth trying out and you'll probably have a lot of fun with it. And for those that aren't used to dungeon RPGs, this may be a better entry point than some of the other recent games that have came out for the platform. But if you're a hardcore nut for the genre, the differences in the gameplay may be too much for you.
|The unique battle system changes up the flow from the typical dungeon RPG mechanics.|
|The dungeon floor approaches vary quite differently from other dungeon RPGs.|
|The visual novel-type approaches makes for a much different experience than other titles in this genre.|
|Tying the epilogue to a second playthrough was an odd move, especially since the narrative personally felt like it floundered a bit towards the end.|
|The angle of the characters during battle can be slightly odd if you're really paying attention to it.|
|Some might find the changes in this title clash too much with what they expect out of a dungeon RPG.|