Tag Archives: CoaDL

Scouse Gamer 88 Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Rhapsody Clash Header

Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Rhapsody Clash (PC)

Developer(s) – Kisareth Studios

ESRB – T for Teen

 

Following on from and influenced by games of the same ilk, such as Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy and Theatrhythm Dragon Quest, Kisareth Studios this year developed their own take on the rhythm RPG in Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Rhapsody Clash; a musical take on the events of both Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode I: Tides of Fate and Episode II: War of the Abyss. Although the idea had been explored prior to the release of this, this was my own personal introduction to it, and I was impressed to say the least.

 

Graphics – 8.5/10

The game presents players with the beautifully crafted hand-drawn style and conceptual design of the two main games in the series, taking place in several primary locations throughout the in-game world of Cora, all at pivotal moments throughout the game’s story, from the fields of battle setting the scene of the initial fight between Magus Lee and his father Exodes to the Abyssal plains where Magus and his party do battle with the Abyssal lord Anto Calias. Most relevant to the game, however, its soundtrack consists of a collection of the most catchy and memorable scores found throughout the series, and adds just as much to its general atmosphere.

 

Gameplay – 7.5/10

The object of the game is to overcome each stage by pressing corresponding buttons in time to each track, and thereby deplete the enemy’s HP before the player’s HP is depleted. It sounds easy in terms of concept, but in terms of challenge, it’s a very different story. The game has four difficulty modes, which can be played through and mastered; all of which offer challenge, but thankfully not to the point of it becoming completely inaccessible, much to my personal delight; just like the first two games, which get inexplicably harder as they progress, even compared to other turn-based RPGs, but aren’t as seemingly impossible as others.

 

Controls – 10/10

The original two CoaDL games have a very straightforward control scheme attached to them, which presents no problems to anyone playing, and this game has even less in the way of complication. To criticize a game like this for not taking any risks in terms of controls to me simply feels too much to me like splitting hairs, since there didn’t need to be any risks taken; especially if a game can provide as much entertainment and replay value as this one can.

 

Lifespan – 6.5/10

To complete one playthrough of the game can take less than an hour on the simplest difficulty settings, but as the player progresses, they will find that with each more advanced difficulty setting, not only does the level of challenge of course increase but also more courses are available for players to have to overcome, adding to a single campaign’s longevity. There is also replay value to be had in attempting to beat the player’s own high score, warranting much more than one playthrough. Though it isn’t overwhelming in terms of lifespan, it’s by no means too short. Many other games released in recent years have left me feeling much more disappointed by how short they are than this.

 

Storyline – 7.5/10

As I mentioned, Rhapsody Clash retells the stories of the first two games in the CoaDL series through several key events and battles against the more threatening and pivotal enemies found throughout. Though it is indeed the same great story, told in a fairly unique way, I would highly recommend that gamers play the two main games in the series first; they’re the best starting point for potential fans of the series, as well as a pair of marvelous games.

 

Originality – 8/10

Although the idea of mixing the rhythm and RPG genres has been explored before, Rhapsody Clash offers a very different take on the hybrid genre, and to me, shows that Kisareth Studios, an independent outfit operating out of Gardner, Massachusetts, weren’t afraid to take the series in a new direction. It was a pleasant surprise for me personally, since I’ve never been a fan of rhythm games, after having played and reviewed such titles as Parappa the Rapper, and it had convinced me that with the right amount of innovation, something exceptional can be made of it.

 

Happii

Overall, Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Rhapsody Clash, whilst not being the best starting point to the spin-off series, is nevertheless a game worth playing through at least twice. Ahead of Kisareth’s plans to bring the first two games to iOS and Android, as well as the upcoming third installment to the main series, Episode III: Rise of Nihility, It’s a very entertaining spin-off title, which I would thoroughly recommend

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode II: War of the Abyss Header

Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode II: War of the Abyss (PC)

Developer(s) – Kisareth Studios

Publisher(s) – Kisareth Studios

ESRB – T for Teen

 

Continuing the saga of the sinister dark lord of the Kisareth Empire Magus Lee, Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode II: War of the Abyss was released last week on Desura, and after having been given the green light to release the first game on Steam, Kisareth hoped to get the second installment to the franchise released on Valve’s online gaming service even faster; and after having played it, I can’t see why that would have been unreasonable.

 

Graphics – 9/10

Following on from the splendid hand-drawn visuals of the first game, Kisareth has stepped up their game by providing infinitely more detailed scenery, settings, character sprites, and enemies. The world in the second game is a lot more open and vast than that of its predecessor, and there is a lot more diversity in the game’s visuals; particularly in its enemy designs. Influences from other sources have been made far less obvious with a lot of the unique enemies that can be found in the game, such as the Abyssal Soldiers and the Scorlanis. As well as there is more effort put into the hand-drawn visuals, the character portraits have also been re-imagined, deviating away from the Japanese anime style used in the last game and making use of a more unique visual style.

 

Gameplay – 9.5/10

The gameplay remains largely the same; a traditional turn-based RPG reminiscent of the likes of Classic Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest games; and as such, it is wonderfully addictive, immersing, and challenging, like its predecessor. The game also throws the player straight into the thick of the action, starting from the battle between Magus and his allies and the dark god Xe’on, creating an extremely explosive first impression on gamers. The developers have also rethought the level-up system by introducing the scion grid, which is used to upgrade the character’s weapons and teach them new fighting abilities. It’s somewhat similar to Final Fantasy XIII’s crystarium system, albeit, much less complicated and easier to work with. In any case, it’s much more satisfying to level up characters than it was in the previous game, and therefore, more enjoyable to play, to say the least. Although there are no more random encounters, and that enemies instead appear onscreen, there is still plenty of room for level grinding and hours of fun gameplay. There is also more to play for throughout the game, as the story splits off into several different directions, giving the player multiple characters to work with intermittently, maintaining a massive amount of variety.

 

Controls – 9.5/10

The only very minor gripe I had about the game’s control scheme was that managing the scion grid was a little bit awkward. They make use of a scrolling system similar to a mouse on a computer, which is pretty slow and makes me think it would have been easier to tailor it in the same manner as every other menu found in the game. But apart from that, the game’s control scheme is flawless, thankfully having no other unnecessary complications that make it impossible to cope with.

 

Lifespan – 7/10

CoaDL II lasts roughly 25 to 30 hours, making it slightly longer than its predecessor, but in my opinion, the third game, Episode III: Rise of Nihility, which is currently in development, needs to be much longer. Typically, turn-based RPGs can be made to last around 80 to 100 hours, and whilst 30 hours is still a very substantial amount of time for a video game to last, I think if Kisareth wants the Chronicles of Dark Lord saga to go from being an indie cult classic to something much bigger and successful, then the next game has to last much longer since although episodes I and II are exceptional games, they have both left me hungry for more Chronicles of a Dark Lord excellence.

 

Storyline – 8/10

Taking place a year after the events of the first game, Magus Lee, the Kisareth Empire, and the rest of the world of Cora face the much greater threat from the forces of the Abyss, and it falls under Magus, his clan, and a mixture of both old and new allies to put a stop to the looming invasion. The story of the second game is just as wonderfully engrossing and daring as the first, with just as great a sense of character development, tragedy, and tension throughout to keep this narrative as magnificent as ever; coupled with the conveyance of both friendship and family unity; which albeit is at times handled in a delightfully dark manner, as some side quests involve sadistically punishing some NPCs who may displease Magus, present players with choices of how best to go about doing this.

 

Originality – 8.5/10

With a new level-up system, new narrative, new characters, and a plethora of new enemy creatures in the game’s bestiary, the franchise has been kept very much original, speaking of Kisareth’s own company policy of providing players with fresh new perspectives on gameplay and visual style. In particular, developing a turn-based RPG that stands out from the many others that have been released over the years I no easy task, and I believe Kisareth has done that in style with not only the second game but with the whole series so far.

 

Happii

Happii

In summation Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode II: War of the Abyss is better than its predecessor, and Kisareth has managed to deliver yet another greatly immersing gaming experience. It’s almost like an extension of the first game, but with much better visuals, more engrossing gameplay, and lasting fractionally longer. My biggest hope now is that the next game in the series dwarfs the size of the first and the second combined, as a game series that could potentially be of the same magnitude as either Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, deserves to have a game that lasts as long as a game in the aforementioned examples.

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode I: Tides of Fate Header

Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode I: Tides of Fate (PC)

Developer(s) – Kisareth Studios

ESRB – T for Teen

 

Released some time ago, Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode I: Tides of Fate is a game that I’d wanted to get my hands on for some time. After contacting the vice-president of Kisareth Studios, CEO Tanya Botelho sent me a copy of the game, and I’ve been thoroughly impressed by it.

 

Graphics – 8.5/10

Chronicles of a Dark Lord contains a fantastically designed and atmospheric in-game world with a stellar soundtrack to accompany it. I was told that the developers at Kisareth take pride especially in how the design of the world and elements of it pan out, and to me, their dedication certainly shows. Another thing I especially like about this game is that, unlike many games that it draws inspiration from, it has a very unique enemy roster, ranging from creatures like Bane Flowers and flying scorpions named the Scorlanis. But the best thing about the game’s visuals that I can point out is that it relies heavily on hand-drawn graphics; a technique which has been incorporated into some of the best games of all time, such as Final Fantasies VII, VIII and IX, and Grim Fandango. Because of this, the battle sequences in the game speak of attention to detail.

 

Gameplay – 9/10

As a traditional turn-based RPG, this game is extremely addictive, as well as being very satisfying to progress through. I’ve always gotten enjoyment out of playing these kinds of games to witness how character strength and ability develop over time, and Chronicles of a Dark Lord is no different. Learnable skills and magic to accumulate as the game progresses, it’s immensely fulfilling just to play through the main story; let alone the very decent amount of side quests to accompany it. Another thing that I like about how this game plays out is that although there is a huge emphasis on story, none of that hinders on how enjoyable it is to play, which is not only a problem I’ve experienced with many other games I’ve reviewed this year but in other recent turn-based RPGs to an extent, such as Child of Light.

 

Controls – 10/10

Chronicles of a Dark Lord incorporates as simple a control scheme as can be found in a video game, and as such, I’m happy to report that there are no unnecessary complications with playing the game to address. A lot of turn-based RPGs over the years have tried to modify this formula with varying degrees of success, but it’s been refreshing to experience a title taking it back to basics and encompassing no frustrations.

 

Lifespan – 6.5/10

The game can make for roughly 20 to 25 hours of gameplay, which though is somewhat short compared to many other games of the kind that have come and gone, isn’t unforgivable. As I said, there is a decent amount of side quests to add to the game’s longevity, and I don’t think it would leave players wanting more on the same scale as I think South Park: The Stick of Truth would have inevitably done for many people who played it.

 

Storyline – 8/10

The story of the game follows the dark lord Magus Lee, leader of the Kisareth Empire, who embarks on a quest with various different allies to thwart the advancement of a much greater evil. Though my own synopsis may sound fairly basic, the game’s story overall is anything but that. Right from the start, there are twists and turns, which keep it engrossing as well as intense throughout. How Magus’ character develops over time also makes it an especially memorable experience, but I don’t wish to give away any more than that since it is most definitely worth gamers finding out for themselves.

 

Originality – 8/10

Though this game is by no means not without its influences, many ideas and inspirations from many different sources have been brought together by Kisareth to form something very special and unique. I think if Kisareth plans to develop this series past the forthcoming second game in the series, it could make for an extremely exciting franchise. The game offers an experience that many mainstream developers these days sadly seem very reluctant to deliver. It’s hard to be able to make a turn-based RPG stand out among most other games of its genre, but Kisareth has done an extremely good job of achieving that.

 

Happii

Happii

Overall, Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode I: Tides of Fate is an exceptional game that is certainly worthy of a lot more attention. Though it has built up a cult following over the last few years, putting the game on Steam would help to bring it to a much wider audience, and I’m hoping that’s where factors like this review come in.

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)