Last Rebellion PS3 Review
It’s been quite an attractive couple of months for JRPG fans. We’ve had interesting titles like Resonance of Fate and Nier after the release of the big one that everyone was looking forward to, Final Fantasy XIII. Among all these releases was a little unknown JRPG called Last Rebellion.
Set in the world of Junovald, a place where two gods, Meitilia (god of death) and Formival (god of life) govern, the story is set around protagonists Nine Asfel and Aisha Romandine. Nine is a powerful, cocky Blade who doesn’t like being bounded by rules. Nine was adopted by the King of Lorvin after his home town was destroyed in a war. Aisha on the other hand is a Sealer who has an immense amount of power that can’t be fully controlled. The power has caused problems for Aisha in the past, but after being confined and looked after, she is hired by the King to help hunt down a demon.
Blades and Sealers are people who are blessed with power by the god Meitilia. Blades are given the power to destroy physical objects, while Sealers have the power to destroy souls. They are needed to get rid of the threat from an infestation of creatures, known as Belzeds, who plan on destroying everything in their path. There’s nothing exciting about Last Rebellion’s plot. It’s mostly clichéd and isn’t helped by mediocre storytelling.
The story kicks off with the death of the King by the traitorous Alfred, who happens to be Nine’s stepbrother. Alfred isn’t just happy with the death of the King, so follows up with killing Nine too. Aisha resurrects Nine but at a cost: they have to share the same soul. This means Nine and Aisha cannot appear in the same place at the same time; they basically share a body that can be switched between each other at will.
There are no party members to find or hire since all your fights are done using Aisha and Nine. Battles are turn-based and while you do not use anyone else, you still get two attacks per round. After one of the heroes has done their attack, they jump through the portal allowing the other character to appear and do their move. The twist is both characters share the same magic and health points. It also means that if one of them is affected with a spell, say poison, it means both of the characters will lose HP when they take their forthcoming turn.
Fights are almost certainly Last Rebellion’s most exciting concept, but it’s also a double edge sword. There are some promising ideas spoilt by some bad decisions. Fights aren’t random; instead players can run into the enemies they want to fight. Once in a battle you are present with an untraditional way of fighting: enemies feature body parts you can target.
First you have to use Command Points (CP) to attack and stamp an enemy, with each body part taking 1 CP to attack. Next to the body part on the enemy menu is a circle with a question mark. These question marks hold a number that is the position in which body part should be attacked. If you manage to attack a body part in the right order then the question mark will reveal the number. For example, the next time you attack the legs you know that they come 7th in the list of 10 body parts. The numbers are only revealed if you got the exact position.
You’ll want to find out the most effective way to attack an enemy because you’ll gain huge bonuses, but also another reason is to stop the battle system revealing its ugly side. Whenever you meet a new enemy you have to go through the circle of trying to find the correct way to attack the enemy’s body parts. Early in the game when you have a very distinct lack of CP you’ll find yourself having to defend to boost the CP back up. This is because you simply don’t have enough CP to keep guessing the correct order in which to attack. What makes things worse is that if you hit the wrong order then the enemy will sometimes get a boost in attack, dealing a lot more damage than normal.
This causes the battles to drag on a lot longer than they should. After you attack and stamp the body parts you then use your Magic Points (MP) to attack until the stamp has ran out. Normally stamping lasts 1 or 2 turns, unless you got the bonuses for the body part, which means it can last up to 5 turns. The bonuses are what you want so that you don’t drain the limited CP and can keep casting magic for more turns. It really interrupts the flow of the battles, which is a huge shame because when you actually get fighting with a full revealed list of correct body parts to target, it becomes a lot more fun and fluid.
A strange twist on the fighting system is the ability to seal or absorb enemies. When you’ve “killed” an enemy they lay on the floor, I guess they are knocked out. If you don’t seal them then they will get back up after a few turns and start fighting again. Aisha has the ability to use her seal command that seals them away making sure they don’t get back up. This has to be done for every enemy, so to finish a fight you need to drain the entire HP from an enemy and then seal them so that you get the results screen and those experience points to level up.
The absorb command is Nine’s ability which refills some MP. In contrast the seal ability fills up some HP. While sealing and absorbing make sense in terms of the story, it really doesn’t feel needed in the battle system and it becomes a chore having to keep doing it after every battle. It seems the developers had a good idea but were determined to throw obstacles at the player to hinder their enjoyment and in turn damage the flow of the game.
It’s not just the battle system that comes off feeling awkward. The level up system makes little sense because you hardly level up a level at a time. Instead you’ll fight a powerful enemy in a new area and jump three or four levels, gaining insane amounts of HP. Afterwards you’ll hardly get any experience and it requires plenty of fights for the next level, so you don’t have to bother and can just run past all the enemies till you get to a new area to explore. Stats are out of this world for HP too, level 42 is something like 38,000 HP but level 49 is in the 90,000s. It’s insane and it feels as if the level system wasn’t really thoughtfully worked out. More like included for for the player to go “Holy crap my HP just jumped by like 8,000, mad!” and it is exactly that… just crazy.
Linearity is the name of the game as Last Rebellion is straight forward. It’s not quite as point to point based as the starting bits of Final Fantasy XIII, but it’s near enough. There’s little room for exploration in the game’s small areas. There’s a hub area that takes you to four different locations and these lead a single path to areas, that at some point in the story you need to visit. There’s no side quests as such apart from a few optional bosses that appear in the same area so there’s nothing here to draw out the game any longer than the 14 hours it takes to finish.
Last Rebellion is quite a barebones adventure in which you visit locations to kill a boss to progress the story. I did like was the vast selection of magic you can use. Magic is found in chests that you gain the keys for by killing enemies. A chest might require a certain amount of keys to open, but once opened you gain the new magic. After boss battles you acquire magic paper that can level up any of the magic you have. You are free to decrease and increase magic levels at will through the menu, which means you can concentrating on maximising your best magic right from the start of the game. It’s a unique way of strengthening magic and feels different from other RPGs.
You’ve probably already noticed looking at the screenshots that Last Rebellion doesn’t exactly promote the PS3’s tagline of high definition gaming. It looks like a PS2 game with some added effects bolted on and up-scaled, with bland textures and low polygon models. It does have a nice soft anime cel shading look but this is the visuals’ only saving grace.
They are no animated cut-scenes featured throughout the short journey. Instead the entire story is told through some very nice art paintings, which appear along with 2D character portraits. The art for Last Rebellion is beautiful and it’s a shame that they couldn’t somehow incorporate that style into the 3D aspect of the game.
The biggest tease is the battle system that could have risen this game up from the depths of mediocre. Instead it falls flat on its face like that infamous video of a kid running to dive into a swimming pool and missing. It’s quite hard to recommend Last Rebellion to anyone but some insane hardcore RPG person, certainly after the recent rush of decent titles that have arrived for the genre. The game is full of so many decisions that hamper the experience and fun.