Japanese fans are already well acquainted with Rogue Galaxy; they were introduced to Level-5’s sci-fi RPG two years ago, while the rest of us had to wait patiently. Well, it has finally arrived on these shores, many hours have been spent exploring its wares… so was it worth the wait?
An RPG is nothing without an original, engrossing storyline - usually one with humble origins that quickly snowballs into a full-blown saga, keeping you happily glued to your screen for many a gaming session. In this respect Rogue Galaxy delivers in spades.
The first chapter doubles as a tutorial, which supplies detailed instructions and helpful hints as needed to get you acquainted with the controls. These are straightforward enough, however it takes a good hour to become truly comfortable with them. Fans of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (another Level-5 title) will immediately notice that Rogue Galaxy bears more than a passing resemblance to DQ8, both in style and execution.
Unusually for a JRPG, combat is run in real time, but if you’re a turn-based die-hard don’t let this put you off. Flexibility is the name of the game here, with players able to access the inventory, issue tactical commands, receive hints from other party members and even switch characters during combat.
Foes come in all shapes and sizes, and many are vulnerable only in specific areas of their bodies, or to particular attacks. Boss battles are by far and away the highlight of all encounters, each one requiring you to put some real thought into how you are going to bring them down.
Other features worth a mention include the Revelation Flow, a kind of progressive skill and weapons upgrade system requiring certain items to unlock or activate. You’ll also find some puzzle elements to challenge the grey matter, plus you can dabble in mini games, some DIY weapons manufacturing or participate in a high stakes galaxy-wide treasure hunt.
As is typical of Japanese RPGs there are plenty of ‘anime-style’ cut scenes to sit through and some of them are pretty lengthy. Luckily, the standard of animation is excellent, with cel-shaded graphics throughout. Major characters are beautifully rendered and are really brought to life by some well-matched voice talent. Add to that a soundtrack that’s easy on the eardrums and you’ve got a gaming experience worth paying for. Rogue Galaxy delivers on so many levels; it was definitely worth the wait.