Pocket RPG Review

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Title: Pocket RPG
Developer: Tasty Poison Games
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 162 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

When Mobile games get sent over to the console world, many things happen.  Some reactions are good and some are not.  What type of reaction do you have?  You could be happy because a Mobile game can be played with button controls.  Or, maybe you want to play the game to earn PSN Trophies, or you just don’t want to play it on your phone’s tiny screen.  Or, you could be upset because the price for the game on console is more than it is on Mobile, for various reasons.  Regardless, a lot of Mobile games are coming to the console world.

The PS Vita has gotten many small Mobile titles in the form of PS Mobile titles, but it’s getting more Mobile titles in the form of Native titles as well.  This week, one such Mobile title came to the Vita.  This Mobile title, however, is a little unique.  First of all, it’s an RPG.  Second, it’s sort of like a Twin-Stick Shooter with the controls on the Vita.  It’s somewhat of a unique thing, though it’s been out on iOS and Android for quite some time now.

As we dive into new games, this is a game the developer contacted us, themselves, and asked us to take a look at the game.  Whether you’re an RPG fan or a fan of top-down games, you should definitely check out the review we’re about to give to you.  Here is our official review of the Twin-Stick Action RPG, Pocket RPG!

Story

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The story of Pocket RPG isn’t highly deepened throughout the game, but you do learn a bit from the beginning of the game and onward.  In your kingdom, there is an evil lord, whose identity remains secret until the end of the game, whom has unleashed legions of monsters into the kingdom.  After these monsters raid villages, destroy towns, and more, a hero appears to take them down and rescue the kingdom.  That hero, is you.

The main idea of the game is that you, the Hero, must take down all of the monsters and Bosses that the Evil Lord has unleashed upon the kingdom, until you can take down the Evil Lord, himself.  It certainly isn’t a winner as far as deep stories go, but it sets up enough for you for the rest of the game, and gives you a little background as to why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Gameplay

The gameplay is a mix-up, depending on what character you go through the game as.  The best thing to say is that thing is somewhat a mixture of an Action RPG and a Twin-Stick Shooter.  You have elements from both involved, though some are more highlighted on depending on what character you’re playing as.  But, throughout the game, you will be exploring dungeons in a top-down fashion while taking out mobs and waves of enemies that are coming at you from nearly all directions.

There is only one Mode to go through, which is the campaign.  That has you going through six different levels as you progress through the story to take on the Final Boss.  When you play through this, though, you choose one of three characters to play as, each of which play different from the others.  You can choose the Dark Ranger, whom relies on rapid arrows to take down enemies.  You can also choose the Blade Master, whom focuses on hacking and slashing his way through enemies, or the Battle Mage, whom devastates enemies with elemental spells and Mana.  Each one plays a little different from the others, though the Ranger and Mage most resemble the feel of a Twin-Stick Shooter.

The uniqueness of the characters comes from how they play.  With the Ranger, you will be constantly firing off arrows and, as you keep a constant chain, you can fire more arrows at once.  The Blade Master is similar to this, in that his slashes get faster and faster the longer you keep a chain going, though he is more close-range than the Ranger.  Finally, the Battle Mage focuses on spells and a Mana bar, where you can charge up each spell to have a more powerful affect and hit multiple enemies at once, and for more damage.  Each character requires a different mindset to fluidly play.

Within the game, you will be going back and forth between your Quests and the World Map.  Quests are where the gameplay happens, where you fight off mobs of enemies and work your way through various stages and levels to get to the Boss.  The World Map is where you return to afterwards, where you can spend the Gold and Skill Points you acquire within the Quests on equipment, skills, and masteries of various weapon and item types.

Questing is where you’ll be doing the bulk of your gaming.  There are six Quests to complete in the game, each consisting of various numbers of levels, which could be 3, 4, or even 5 stages each.  Completing one quest leads to the next and you repeat this process until you’ve reached the end of the game and can challenge the Final Boss.

Once you beat the Final Boss, though, the game doesn’t end.  You can re-visit any of the stages and Quests of the game, and they’ll all be different the second time around.  Different environments.  Different Monsters.  So, essentially, to get the whole experience of the campaign, you need to go through the game twice, since those stages change after the Final Boss is taken down.

As we spoke of earlier, you gain Skill Points (from leveling in quests) and Gold from within Quests.  Once you are out of a Quest, you can use those points to make purchases.  These can vary between Skills and Masteries.  With Skills, you can add extra abilities to your character as well as different armor to give various affects as well as passive abilities that affect monsters, items, and other things within the Quests.  With the Masteries, it increases the effectiveness of various items and weapons you can find throughout the game and whether some will appear for you or not.   Many of these unlockable features will also only be available to you once you reach and clear a certain Quest of the campaign.

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Doing Quests will be dungeon-crawling.  For every stage you do, you will be in a top-down environment inside a 3D dungeon.  Each of these dungeons acts as a maze, where you are to traverse the maze until you reach the exit to get to the next stage or a Mini-Boss or Major Boss fight.  While the environments and enemies vary, depending on the Quest, this remains the same from start to finish.

As you explore the dungeons, you will be able to destroy objects around you as well as having to fight off waves of enemies that come at you.  Enemies can come either in waves that end or in waves as well as enemies that spawn new enemies.  Without quickly taking the Spawners out, you can get overrun very fast.  When enemies come at you and you defeat them, you will gain experience points.  Gaining enough will allow you to level up, which completely restores your health and will increase your stats, like damage output and defense.  Enemies will also drop items you can pick up, like health potions and potions to give you temporary effects, like 2x Damage or Health Regeneration.

Items can also be found from objects you can destroy as well as Merchants.  When you destroy objects, they will give you Gold but also have a chance of spawning enemies or dropping potions.  There are also Treasure Chests you can find to open, which will give you Gold and items in the form of equipment.  You can get various weapons, crystal accessories, and bracelet accessories.  These can give you various effects, like changing the element of your attack, give you more damage output, increase the critical hit change, Health regeneration and more.  Utilizing the best equipment you find and from Merchants is critical to finishing each Quest, as hoarding it will do you little, as your level and inventory is automatically sold as soon as you finish your Quest.

Each of the stages in the game can take anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes.  Knowing this, clearing the game with a single character should take you at least a few hours, more if you want to re-do all of the stages when they change.  It’s not a terribly long game, but not a short game, either, for everything you’ve got to do.  It will definitely take multiple plays through the game to be able to unlock all skills, equipment and Masteries for even a single character.

Controls

Controlling the game is what adds part of the game’s uniqueness.  The game is somewhere between a Twin-Stick Shooter and an Action RPG.  Because of this, you’ll be using the two Analog Sticks for most of the game.  On the topic of touch controls, there are some controls in menus that you can use the touch screen for.  However, you don’t need it in Questing like you do in the Mobile version of this game.

Moving your character around the dungeon is going to be done either with the Left Analog Stick or the D-Pad.  This is the same across all characters.  But the rest of the buttons have different effects depending on the character you’re using.  For example, firing off attacks for the Mage and Ranger are done with the Right Analog Stick.  However, attacking with the Blade Master is done with X, which is used for Support Abilities for the other two characters.  This can get a little confusing, if you often switch from one character to another.

These controls are the same across both the PlayStation Vita and the PlayStation TV.  While the Analogs do feel a little different on the PSTV, it is mostly the same.  It’s not a hard control scheme, assuming you can remember what each button does for each character.  Otherwise, you’ll have to randomly press buttons to remember what each button does once you start unlocking skills.

Presentation

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The presentation is where many will decide a few things about wanting this game.  Visually, the game is identical to its iOS and Android versions, which isn’t a bad thing.  The game is in full 3D, and the 3D renders look good.  They almost look chibi-like, similar to those from games like Final Fantasy III and Bravely Default.  There are very few jagged edges on those models, though, making your questing look crisp and smooth.

The music is also a strong point for the game.  All of the music has a very “epic” tone to them.  In this way, it feels like the entire game’s soundtrack is very symphonic and full of intense music for the chaotic battles that take place in each dungeon.  It’s not a soundtrack that’s going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but it’s one that fits the environments well.

How the game plays is where the downside of the presentation lies.  While the game plays well and very rarely has frame-drops or lag, the load times for the game are something to consider.  As you can see in the gameplay video we embedded in the Gameplay Section, the game has long load times.  The odd thing is that they seem random.  You will be waiting anywhere from 20 to 40 seconds to get a dungeon to load.  You could have a dungeon load in 15 seconds and the same dungeon load again later and take 30 seconds.

As we mentioned above, there are frame drops, although they are scarce.  We had the frames drop on us twice when we played, and each time it lasted only a couple second.  It’s no big deal, but is a little annoyance, along with the long load times.

Summary

Pocket RPG is, as it says, an RPG you can put in your pocket.  In its transition to the Vita, it combines gameplay from Twin-Stick Shooters to dungeon-crawling RPGs.  On the downside, the game has long load times and is much more costly than it is on Mobile.  However, tying button controls, trophies, PSTV compatibility, and the unique gameplay, it’s definitely worth any RPG fan’s time. 

7/10

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