Elminage Original – The PS3 Attitude Review
Better late than never though, right? We look into whether or not Elminage was worth the wait.
To begin, the story is barebones and revolves around you finding six rings to prevent a disaster that could destroy the world. With little dialogue in-game and a very thin plot, the game heavily relies on its gameplay and dungeon-crawling to entice you into continuing the adventure.
Unfortunately, the characters are as transparent as the story, leaving you with a few bland NPCs and characters to control, who are essentially no more than character classes with names, seemingly only there for you to personally refer to them.
Fortunately, the gameplay is solid and quite addictive, especially if you’re into grinding. If you’re not, however, then dungeon-crawling may not be your cup of tea. You control a team of six characters, with varying classes if you decide to branch out. Battles feature traditional turn-based controls, so you select an attack and an enemy, and hope they don’t retaliate with powerful moves.
When you’re not shopping or talking to people in the town, you’ll be dungeon-crawling using a first-person view to navigate the area. You’ll encounter enemies when walking around, which is great for grinding, but may interfere with your exploration.
Sadly, all enemies only appear in 2D and you never see your characters, so battles can become tedious after a long period of time. These dungeons are grand in size but rather empty in design, leading you to wander through similar corridors and be attacked countless times.
We can be slightly more forgiving about the graphics as they look fairly crisp on the Vita screen, proving that simple 2D art can still be immersive. While enemies and 2D locations look gorgeous, dungeons seem flushed out in comparison and offer little variety. Enemies are creative, colourful and stand out against the dull environments, effectively acting as eye-candy, which is good because there’s no lack of encounters in the sprawling dungeons.
However, as good-looking as the game can be at times, 2D art - especially in older titles - can be restrictive, and it’s no different with Elminage. Enemies don’t change stance during combat, so instead they jolt around when attacking or being hit, which can make battles feel quite slow.
The soundtrack is nice with a vast array of music to fit the atmosphere, but it does become repetitive after a few hours. Sound effects are satisfying and pack a punch, balancing out the dullness of the environments. Elminage doesn’t include any voice-acting, but due to the lack of story this doesn’t feel like such a glaring omission; although, come to think of it, there aren’t many other noises in battle at all, other than attacks.
If you enjoy grinding then you’ll find a lot of enjoyment in Elminage, but if not, this game probably isn’t for you. It’s lengthy but you’ll find yourself retracing your steps, fighting countless similar enemies and spending a lot of time trying to fumble your way through the dungeons.
Elminage Original comes with the appeal of being a niche Japanese title, and it can accurately be described as a grinder’s dream. It won’t appeal to everybody, and the lack of story and characters may drive some people away, but if you’re looking for a grind-centric experience then Elminage Original may be the perfect game for you.