Date: 02-25-2011 11:00
Author: Mason King

PDC profile: Mason

Spectral Souls: Resurrection of the Ethereal Empires is yet another Tactical RPG to be released for Sony's PSP. But does it have enough to outshine other strategy based games available on the PSP, such as Disgaea?

Basic Gameplay
I'm a fan of traditional Role Playing Games, but I haven't stepped afoot the strategy RPG's that often, so for a beginner like me, I initially felt this game was very complex. The game is played through battles that take place on small pieces of 3D landscape and scenery suspended in dull grey space; any hint of interesting colour being faded. The characters that that player commands are 2D, which is common to most games of this genre. You can control them by giving them commands on what to do, such as moving them by selecting a section to walk to. Skills such as attacking and healing are the next steps, but you can go deeper into the system with other moves such as linking and holding attacks to build up more powerful ones. I found it to look overwhelming and complicated for when I started, but it eventually came together and made more sense as I progressed through the game.

As for the interface, selecting options are simply done by selecting menu items, yet at times it can be hard to navigate. Similar to older RPGs, you have scroll up and down through lists of options to select. All the attacks are located in the skills section, items are found in the items page, and the options to move & wait have their own sections. Performing more advanced moves become a bit more tiresome since you need to hold the R shoulder button, then select and attack to perform. When I first started playing, I was fairly confused when I saw the slash attack twice on one character with no guidance to tell me whether there was a difference between the two or not. The game does eventually reveal why, so it's confusing why the options are included early on. Although it does have those flaws, I didn't see it as a huge problem, since it was fairly easy to perform basic commands to get started.

How Uninspiring


When the time to attack finally comes, you see some very basic visual effects that aren't anything special. This lack of charm and nothing special is my main problem with the game and fails to keep me interested. Dialogue between battles are just endless slabs of text with no voice-overs or animations. I eventually began to skip all of them to save time and patience. As I said before, landscapes are detailed but plain and they lack any features that makes one map stand out from the next. The dreaded ‘Disc Access’ message was another thing I ended up disliking. Even though I was playing the downloaded copy, I was still encountering this message frequently which made some simple actions (like scrolling through a conversation or performing an attack) longer due to having to wait a second for it to load. It may not seem that long, but they do appear regularly during all points of the game which in turn slows down the whole flow of things. I can only imagine how much worse this problem would be when reading the game off the UMD disc, since data loads slower off of UMDs compared to digital downloads. One last issue I had was the music and sounds of the game. The minimal usage of sound effects fail to fill the void of spoken voice acting. This means all you get to listen to is the average quality sound-track that plays behind the game-play.

The Bright Side
I've made this game seem a bore with plenty of problems plaguing it, but underneath it all, the game has some interesting elements. As with many other RPGs, Spectral Souls has towns were you can do the usual purchasing or trading items and equipment to get ready for the next battle. Then there are also the workshops, where items and skills can be mixed to create better abilities and equipment to aid in battle. Lastly, there are guilds where characters can change their class and obtain improved stats. These opportunities to customize my characters helped mix the game up somewhat, but they still remained far from outstanding and lacked the variety and depth that I needed to stay interested.

Conclusion
Spectral Souls: Resurrection of the Ethereal Empires is not a bad game, it just doesn’t have that spark, which could allow it to stand out from the other strategy heavy RPGs available. The story is alright, but it’s not going to blow your socks off. The same can be said about the game-play, and really everything else the game has to offer. I would only recommend purchasing this title if you have exhausted every other game in this genre that the PSP has in its library. Otherwise, I suggest you look first into any of the other strategy role-playing games before considering this title.

Spectral Souls: Resurrection of the Ethereal Empires was developed by Idea Factory. The game's release to Europe was delayed for 4 years, but is out now in nearly every region. Depending on the region, it can be purchased either on UMD or via the PlayStation Store. I spent over 8 hours playing through the downloaded version of the game in order to write this review.



5/10
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