“Protect the Light, condemn the Dark.”
Birthed by the same guys who brought us Rune Factory, Marvelous Entertainment, and published by my bias, Atlus Games, Luminous Arc is a turn-based strategy game which plays like Jeanne D’Arc but doesn’t kick as
hard. The game pits the Church versus the Witches with your main character, Alph, playing on the side of the Church. Well, intially. Alph and the gang–called the Garden Children, since they were raised and trained in the Ever Garden–finds out that the Church is up to no good and that the Witches are actually nice people. So they decide to change courts, just like that. They were eventually found out and branded as traitors by the Church, which made saving the world a tad more complicated.
What is peculiar about this game for me is that I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad. It just sort of lies in between. It’s in limbo. There are a number of good things I liked about it but there are also a handful which I hate. To make things easier, let’s do this Church-Witch style. Oppositions!
1. The first thing that I really like about it is the piano piece that was being played during the title screen. The first time I opened the game, I just stared at the title screen and listened to it, completely forgetting about the ‘New Game’ button flashing in front of my face.
2. Inversion of the paradigm. Rather than the usual Church=good, Witch=evil, they actually dared turning the tables around and casting the Church into a bad light, raising the risk of harboring the wrath of millions of Roman Catholics all over the world by a 2948723987%. Of course, I exaggerate. But, seriously. It’s not everyday that you find a game which antagonizes God.
3. Nice character design! Although I could say otherwise with the puny humans, I absolutely loved the Witches. Twilight Witch! lsdjflsjd! Lady Claire! The Witch of Immolation! They all end in exclamation points! Even I was surprised with how handsome God was.
4. Like Jeanne D’Arc, the battle system was pretty straight forward. You have the usual commands you’d find in a turn-based strategy game. However, see Cons # 2.
1. In-game music was forgettable. I only liked the Prelude, the tune during Intermissions and…the opening song, I guess. The voice overs were annoying at times. I hated Theo’s voice. He sounded like a girl. I mean, sure, he’s a small kid and is the younger bro but, do you really have to rub it in?
2. Battles can sometimes get cluttered. This usually happens when there are too many characters in a small space and you can’t see where your stylus is pointing to save your life. Thus, it may lead to stray hits to fellow members or mistaken Heals for enemies. Not good. You can switch to the D-pad but its configuration during battle weirds me out. Plus, you can’t position your party during the beginning of battle.
3. The story was kind of slow at first that I was tempted to drop it for a while. But it picked up along the way so I guess it’s okay. Perhaps they just shouldn’t have taken too long at the beginning.
4. Some character classes are just better off without. For instance, Nikolai. His class is a Savant. First, what on earth is that supposed to be. Second, Nikoalai hits strong but his Move and Speed attributes are so low he dies even before he gets to hit anyone. Another one is Mavi, who’s the Nature Witch. I love her to death ’cause she’s so cool and her physical attacks are just tops but her magic just sucks. And her resistance to magic is so low. And she’s a witch. What’s up with that.
Well, that’s some of the ones I can remember right now. As I said, it was a bit slow and boring at the beginning but it picked up later on with some plot twists and other whatnot. It’s quite a short game if you just want to finish the main story. With 26 or so chapters, where each chapter is equal to one place/city, I managed to finish it in a little over 20 hours. That’s just for the first playthrough, though. Upon finishing the game for the first time, a dungeon opens when you load your saved and finished game. I reckon it’s like Jeanne D’Arc’s Coliseum but I can’t be too sure since I just looked at the first floor.
All in all, I think it’s a pretty decent game, considering the fact that the franchise reached Luminous Arc 3. And since it’s the first game, I guess we should give it some slack. I read in places that some of the issues were fixed in the other Luminous Arc games that followed so I guess the production team’s aware of the game’s weaknesses as well. Story-wise, it does have some decent turns and you might like how the witches look like. I told you, it’s a game in limbo. So I leave you in limbo as well whether to play it or not.
P.S. The characters are funny in this game. Maybe I should make a compendium or something.
Credits to Guy should for the beautiful header.