Experience has unleashed another dungeon crawling role-playing game, Ray Gigant, this time teaming up with Acttil to bring the title to us. They do some experimentation with the classic dungeon crawling design, but will it pay off, or is Ray Gigant destined to fall by the wayside?
Ray Gigant begins in a dramatic fashion as a young man describes what has happened in the world. A terrible beast known as a Gigant suddenly appeared and attacked Tokyo and other major cities. Humanity’s armies attempted to fight, but were utterly crushed, and all hope seemed lost.
As suddenly as the monster appeared, however, it disappeared, as a young boy by the name of Ichiya Amakaze succeeded where the world’s military had failed and defeated it. He was only able to do so with the help of a mysterious life-form known as a Yorigami, however, in the end, the power of the Yorigami overwhelmed him and caused a great deal of destruction to Tokyo.
After the battle, humanity managed to find a way to artificially create this union between the Yorigamis and humans, although only select people known as Kamibito were able to utilize this artificial union.
The first part of the game focuses on the first of three protagonists, Ichiya Amakaze. He has been sent to Outer Academy in order to learn more about fighting the Gigants as more have been appearing after the defeat of the first. To begin with, he is a self-centered coward, fearing the bond with the Yorigami and the power it has given him. Add this to the fact that the other two students on his team, Mana and Kazuomi, don’t particularly care for him.
As the game progresses, the team begins to truly care for and rely upon each other, and Amakaze becomes somewhat likable.
The second part gives the viewpoint of Kyle Griffin, who is more serious and grown up, but is also a bit of a jerk to just about everybody.
The final “Natural”, as those who can bond with Yorigamis normally are known, is known as Nil Phineus.
I won’t go into too much detail about either Nil or Kyle, as I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but these are not merely different viewpoints of the same event. Instead each story leads into the other, though the way it does so can feel a bit jarring. Imagine finishing an intense boss fight, then suddenly you’re granted a group of new, low level characters who talk about inane topics and you’ll have some idea.
Despite the fact the pace can feel off due to this, the story itself is still interesting, as various organizations and people have different reasons for doing what they are, and there are quite a few twists and turns.
The gameplay takes traditional dungeon crawling mechanics and adds some innovation to them. To begin, you will not create your own party, as you would in say, Stranger of Sword City, but instead each party will feature a group of three. These three also do not level up in the traditional sense of “fight battle, gain experience, level up”, which at first makes it sound like the battles may be a waste of time.
That said, battles aren’t a waste of time at all, at least not for a while. Each battle grants you resources in the form of materials. Materia, Force, Seed, Breed, Alter, and Reverse are the materials you can gain from battle or the various chests scattered throughout each dungeon. Force and Materia are utilized to strengthen skills and your items, while Seed strengthens your character. Materia is how you gain new items (or strengthen one of your old ones, as it is random). Finally, Alter and Reverse can refund the materials you spent if you decide you don’t like how you built up a character.
On the note of battles, there are no random encounters whatsoever. Instead you can see every enemy on the map, and they come in different colors to show you how challenging they are. In battle, you have an AP meter that maxes out at 100, which you can utilize to use various moves in battle. If this hits zero, you cannot do anything but pass, and the three different colors mentioned, blue, red, and yellow, tell you how much AP will be utilized in battle. You will need to carefully weigh your actions, as you could run out of AP and spend a couple of turns completely helpless.
Yellow encounters are the encounters that will use the standard amount of AP per move. Blue cuts the cost in half, and red doubles the cost. If you leave the dungeon or choose to revive the Gigants at a red gem, which is the save point in each dungeon, the exact same encounters (well, encounter types would be a more accurate description, as the enemies that appear once you start the encounters are randomized) will reappear, allowing you to grind up on materials or strategize and recover AP or SP. Your AP regenerates as the enemy moves or you can choose “Wait” to regenerate a bit per character. You also get bonus AP recovery at the end of each battle, depending on how quickly you defeat the enemy Gigants.
You also begin with merely three moves you can utilize, though this quickly opens up to six, so you will need to use a bit of strategy to figure out what skills to bring into battle. In addition, there are certain limitations, as you are required to have at least one (two once the other three open) non-combat skill, such as Wait, or food.
As the game continues to advance, you gain access to Slash Beat Mode, a minigame that utilizes Slash Points, or SP. Once you have stocked up between 50 and 100 SP (by defeating normal Gigants or attacking a Type 1 boss), you can activate this mode and play a rhythm mini-game where you need to time your attack button presses to the music. Each of the three characters has different rhythms for you to master, and, if you are good enough, you can dish out a great deal of damage to your foes, even taking down a boss in one powerful maneuver, depending on your character’s strength.
You also need to be more careful as the game advances, however, as you begin to run the risk of entering “Parisitism mode” after about 10 turns of failing to defeat an enemy (the number of turns carry over between battles). Once this mode kicks in, your moves all use your HP instead of AP, and you only have two ways to exit this mode; Defeat the enemies or utilize Slash Beat Mode.
After battle, all of your characters who weren’t taken out will fully recover, although your AP and SP will remain what they were (SP will increase if you achieve victory). You could also, at the cost of all your AP, run away from an encounter if you feel things are looking too grim.
Unfortunately, the full recovery, while it makes this a great starter for those just getting into the genre, also makes things a tad too easy, and can turn off dungeon crawler veterans.
Taken together, the systems combine to make Ray Gigant a unique experience.
Visuals and Sound
In terms of visuals, Ray Gigant is fairly impressive, with the exception of the dungeons, or Megalosites, as they are known. Where the art in the visual novel scenes and battles is beautiful, the dungeons are bland in comparison, and this is even more disappointing when you realize there are so few designs for the dungeons.
Speaking of the battle visuals, unlike many, where you will only see your character portraits, in Ray Gigant you will see the backs of your characters. The enemies are detailed and feature some animation to help bring them to life, Unfortunately the detail doesn’t extend to your attacks, instead seeing text and numbers indicating the action and amount of health increased or decreased.
As noted earlier, music actually plays a role throughout the game, thanks to the Slash Beat Mode in which you need to time your button presses with it. What we haven’t covered is how each character has a distinct musical style. Ichiya’s battle, dungeon, and Slash Beat theme are all more jazzy in nature, featuring saxophone and brass-like instruments. Ichiya’s are sterile and techo-styled, and finally, Nil’s is softer with piano and string instrumentation. It is interesting how the elements actually fit into the character personalities, battles, and special attacks.
Overall, Ray Gigant’s experimentation, while it will likely prove divisive, works in its favor for the most part, turning it into more than “Just another dungeon crawler” and into an interesting, unique experience. Fans of the genre should enjoy it, though many may find it far too easy.
Final Score: 4/5