Friday, June 22, 2007

Galaxy Questing

I'm addicted
to Rogue Galaxy, but I get the feeling that I shouldn't enjoy it as much as I do.

The gameplay hits the sweet spot between determination and frustration. To use the modern term, it has Flow.

But this game has the most inane dialogue and plotting I have ever encountered. I'm not using hyperbole. Conversations are bland, slow, repetitive, and lacking any subtlety. This is a game that would announce a devious scheme by having the bad guy say to himself, "Now to put into motion my devious scheme of stealing things and fighting." In fact, that might be a quote.

I don't think this is a localization problem, either. It's probably just as awful in the original Japanese.

Characterization also stinks. There are some great character designs that definitely feel part of a coherent universe. Then the whole effect is spoiled by the introduction of the most hideous, ridiculous NPCs. They are non-sequiturs, ruining any possibility of a unified style. In other words, they completely shatter immersion.

Which is a shame, really, because the actual meat of the game shows some great refinements. Cutscenes can be paused and skipped. Special ability animations (think of those long summons from Final Fantasy) can be skipped. There is a skill system similar to the FF XII license board but with much better organization and less hassle. Combat is challenging but the direct control gives the player a strong feeling of agency.

There's a good game in Rogue Galaxy, but it's bottom of the barrel when it comes to story. This might be the reason why I saw seven or eight used copies in Gamestop.

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