The latest dungeon-crawling epic from Experience Inc., Ray Gigant, is set to bring quite the grand adventure to the PlayStation Vita on May 3, 2016. How does it compare to previous titles by the studio, such as Stranger of Sword City?
To begin with, Ray Gigant places more emphasis on story compared to their previous dungeon-crawling role-playing games. If you appreciate a good story, then this makes the game all the better. The story of the title revolves around different heroes who each have a tale to tell before their stories eventually converge at the end of the game.
The first chapter begins shortly after a tremendous tragedy befalls the planet. Thanks to the appearance of massive creatures known as Gigants, Earth’s major cities have been left in ruins. The world’s military attempted to unite and defeat these invaders, but were crushed almost instantly on the event known as “Zero Day”.
As the annihilation of mankind seemed imminent, a boy known as Ichiya Amakaze managed to defeat one of these powerful beasts, thanks to a mysterious power called the Yorigami. This power consumed him, however, causing him to lose control and destroy much of the city as well.
Ichiya is taken into custody and enrolled, thanks to his immense potential, into an organization tasked with unraveling the mysteries behind the Gigants and sending them away for good.
The cast is quite lively, and all manage to successfully stand on their own, especially when compared with prior titles from the same studio. Ichiya’s banter with his squadmates is entertaining, as is the tension between Ichiya and the hotheaded Kazuomi. Each brings his or her own dynamic to the story, and each conversation helps flesh out Ichiya’s relationship with his comrades.
A dungeon-crawler wouldn’t be what it is without some dungeons to explore, however, and Ray Gigant delivers these in inter-dimensional areas of Tokyo known as Megalosites. The exploration in these areas will instantly feel familiar to those who have played titles in the genre, and Ray Gigant boasts subtle variations on the established formula.
For starters, there are no random encounters whatsoever. You can see every enemy displayed on your map, and each is represented by a colored icon. These icons come in three colors: blue, yellow, and red, with each one representing how dangerous the encounter is. Blue are “Light” battles, which utilize less AP per move your characters make. Yellow are the “Normal” battles, which use the standard amount, and red are the “Heavy” encounters, which uses quite a bit more per action. Your AP will not regenerate between battles (except for any bonus you may get for finishing a battle quickly), so, with a max of 100, you will need to strategize carefully or risk running into quite a bit of trouble when you encounter a more powerful foe and have little to no AP.
In battle, you start off with three actions that you can utilize. As the game opens up a bit more, you gain access to three more, bringing your total to six. Some actions you can do include healing, attacking, and waiting. Each action, aside from waiting, requires Action Points, or AP, to utilize, with waiting restoring a small bit of your AP. You can freely swap between the three characters as you input up to five commands each (provided you have the requisite AP), so you can, for instance, have one focus on attacking, one heal, and one help restore any AP used that round.
Your characters can be knocked out in battle, and, if they are, will be out of commission until you retreat to the safety of your base. If they live, regardless of how little HP they may have left, they will fully recover once the battle ends.
Perhaps the most interesting mechanic in the title is what is known as the Shash Beat Mode. As you battle, your SBM meter in the upper right builds up, and, once it reaches at least 50, you can activate this mode by tapping the Right Shoulder Button. If you have 50, you will be required to use the “Short” version, but if you have 100, you can choose between “Short” and “Full”.
Once activated, a flashy anime cutscene occurs, kicking off a rhythm game. You will need to successfully input attack commands (you cannot use any that are not attack) in tune with the game’s music, and each successful command counts as one attack. Once the song ends, you will unleash a volley of attacks, which can, depending on how well you did, take out even bosses in a single hit.
In the hours we’ve sunk into the game, it certainly seems to be an interesting dungeon crawler, and quite different from their previous dungeon crawlers.