Standard JRPG story, dynamic battle system
Is your sister cursed? While on a quest to cure her, have you been caught up in events that could lead to the destruction of the entire world if you don’t fight to stop it? Well chances are, you’re playing a JRPG. Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection, to be exact.
In the despair-filled world of Hades the story focuses on two orphaned siblings. Claude is a talented alchemist who uses his skills to care for his sickly sister, Yuri, who has a mysterious disease in the form of a butterfly symbol on her neck. As they travel in search of Snowdrops, a critical ingredient needed to make Yuri’s medicine, the pair meet and befriend new travel companions and get wrapped up in the land’s politics.
The game’s story is broken up into several chapters. Japanese voiced dialogue, pretty anime-style character portraits, and narrative take the place of action or animated sequences. Outside of progressing point-to-point on the world map, there is no environment to explore, but unless you have no inkling of an imagination, you’ll be fine without it. Chapter recaps fill the player in on what is going on in the story which is handy if you’ve taken a long break from playing. I did find some of the characters and dialogue to be a bit stiff but in a way that is typical to JRPGs.
Each chapter has one or more mandatory battles that must be completed in order to progress to the next. Victory in battle rewards you with AP (Alchemy Points) which you distribute however you like. These points can be used to level up characters and their weapons as well as heal. Aside from mandatory battles you can access a free play mode. This mode generates random battles for you to practice different strategies as well as grind.
While the story is pretty standard for JRPGs, the strategy battle system in Pandora’s Reflection is a definite highlight of the game. Each battle has terms for winning and losing. For example, to win you could destroy all enemies or capture a certain point on the map. During battles you can deploy a maximum number of characters onto the field. Once deployed, you can direct your characters to set points on the map. All characters, including enemies, move in real time. When your characters cross paths with enemies a one on one battle will commence.
Most characters are equipped with two different types of weapons that are good or bad against other types of weapons. Once you select which weapon to attack with you go into a mode called Active Chance where you hit buttons in time with cues, giving you the opportunity to deal out extra damage. Executing good attacks also allows other characters on the field that are within range to attack the enemy. If you manage to arrange five characters around a single enemy on the map and attack with five characters in a row, additional damage is dealt because of your successful five combo attack.
Other factors, such as the terrain and whether it is day or night, come into play on the field, causing penalties or bonuses. Also, how many characters you can deploy onto the field depend on in-battle events. For example, you may only be able to deploy two characters until you capture strategic points on the map, granting you more deployments. But abandoning those points leaves them vulnerable to enemy capture. If those points are captured, the character deployed after your initial take over will be forced to retreat.
In some instances your opponent will have ballistics set up on the field in addition to enemies, causing massive damage to your characters if they travel into its attack path. Just like strategy points, they can be taken over and used against the enemy but if abandoned your control over them might not last long.
While the story and characters in Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection aren’t anything particularly special, I do feel that it more than makes up for it with its fun and fast-paced battle system. It’s easy enough to learn but difficult enough that poor or rushed strategy will result in your easy defeat. If you have a PSP or Vita check this one out, especially if you’re looking for a different spin on the JRPG genre and with it being exclusively available via PSN, it’s easily accessible. If you’re in the UK, don’t worry, you can download it on March 6, 2013.
Review copy supplied
Tested on PSP