By Janelle | September 24, 2009 at 7:49 am
One part of Sega’s booth that was drawing some attention was the End of Eternity section. This is the game that’ll be called Resonance of Fate in English, even though the titles don’t seem to have any relation to each other.
While waiting in line the play the demo, I got to watch a few videos and trailers for the game that showcased some plot, environments, features, and the battle system. There are a few notable mentions. End of Eternity takes place entirely inside a city/tower/factory called Bazel, where the rich live on top and the poor live on the bottom. Two of the gameplay features are weapon customization (in the video, pieces were pulled from a menu and positioned onto a gun by the player, and moved around at will) and costume customization. A bragging point was that in the game’s movies and cutscenes, the costume changes have continuity, not just on the field and in battle.
When the demo started up, there was a long, complicated tutorial to explain a long, complicated battle system. tri-Ace has really outdone themselves with this one. To try and simplify it, this is an RPG with what appears to be a total lack of swords. The three characters (Zephyr, Reanbell and Vashyron) are armed with different kinds of guns and grenades, and are all phenominal acrobats. The combat often seems to involve trying to put as much distance between characters and enemies as possible. There are basically two different kinds of damage (scratch and direct) and two different kinds of attacks. Scratch damage is could be called theoretical damage. It accumulates for a while but characters don’t feel the effects until they’re hit with some direct damage, at which point the scratch damage converts somehow into direct damage. Different weapons deal one or both of these kinds of damage. For example, grenades cause direct damage to foes, but if allies are too close, they take friendly fire in the form of scratch damage. It’s a nice touch.
Then come the two different kinds of attacks:. There are regular attacks, where your character stands still, time passes and you can get shot at. When selecting the attack, a ring will start to fill around the enemy. Each completed ring is a bullet or grenade, and you can let the hits stack up as long as nobody else attacks before you can confirm that attack. After you confirm it, the character will fire off the accumulated hits, and it’s someone else’s turn. Then come the Invincible Actions, which are this game’s equivalent of a drive-by shooting. By hitting the square button, you can choose a path that you want a character to run along, and they will attack the targeted foe as long as they haven’t reached their destination yet. These runs are periods of invincibility, but can only be used a limited number of times. If you run out of Invincible Actions, characters go into Danger mode, take more damage, and run funny. Characters can cross paths with Invincible Actions to do combos.
Tutorial over, I started the demo. It was a five-screen dungeon, with an encounter on each screen, followed by a boss. It was rough going at first. I couldn’t really figure out strategies, so I just had Reanbell lob grenades at everything. Eventually, I caught the feel for the targeting system and Invincible Actions, and started separating the characters but having them cross paths. Suddenly, they were performing dramatic leaps, tearing through everything and getting multiple hit combos. The system has a well-programmed intelligence to it: for example, when I directed Zephyr’s path across the side of a ramp, he tripped and fell down, stopping his Invincible Action.
In the middle of my fourth battle, the demo locked up. An attendant came and restarted the demo for me, but in my haste to make up lost time and get back to the point where I was, I started abusing Invincible Actions until without realizing it, ran out with all my characters simultaneously. Suddenly they were in Danger mode, and sitting ducks. A lone fat man opponent with pistols absolutely tore my three-man team apart.
What I took from this demo was that the battle system tri-Ace has cooked up is flashy, yet strategic, fun, and can’t be easily abused. Before playing the demo, I was a bit ambivalent about the game, because it looks like so many other games out there right now. But the demo actually changed my mind. I’m legitimately interested in what the final product is going to play like, and how the exploration and story will tie in with the battle system. I recommend keeping an eye on this one.