Well, I’ve cleared this game for a while now, but I just realized that I haven’t made a review for it yet. Since I won’t have anything Zodiac Angel related to update for a couple of weeks, I figured I might as well make a review for this game.
After sitting down and consolidating my thoughts about this game, I have to say that even with the hype I had, it turns out that I can’t really say that this is a good game at all. So I guess this is going to be my first real negative game review. This came from someone who bought a PS3 just for this game, so I hope this sounds somewhat reliable.
Without further adieu, let’s get into the review!
Note that aside from points where I specified otherwise, my opinion is always completely objective and built up from an absolutely neutral point. While the title is called a ‘Review’, this article is nothing more than an experience sharing session of someone who has played the game.
All images used in this post are from random Google Search and used solely for visual aid purposes. I thereby claim no ownership to any of them.
This review will contain spoilers to [Cross Edge]. Proceed at your own risk!
Cross Edge is a crossover game (duh) featuring characters from five developers: C(r)apcom, GUST, Nippon Ichi, Bandai-Namco, and Idea Factory. They star the characters from the following games:
- Dark Stalkers
- Mana Khemia 2
- [Blazing Souls] and [Spectral Souls]
- Atelier Marie
- And last but not the least, the game that seals the deal for me, Ar Tonelico
Yes, my 2nd favorite girl, Aurica Nestmile, is featured as a playable guest character within this game. On top of that, Michelle Ruff, the VA who voiced Sophia Esteed, is doing Aurica’s voice is this game (in Ar Tonelico, Aurica was voiced by Kari Wahlgen).
Now you guys see why I told myself that I HAVE to play this game.
The game’s graphic are mostly sprite-based, but a very beautiful and detailed one at that. One of the things I liked about this game’s sprite is how the weapon’s sprites actually change according to the weapon that character is holding. I don’t see many sprite-based games do that. Oh yes, try unequipping a sword / spear user then put them into battle for lulz. I’m not a fan of weapon’s visual change (as in I don’t mind seeing a character using that same sword or staff for the whole game), but I have to give the developers credit for including this detail.
The story progresses in a Visual Novel dialogue style (you see the portrait with expressions of the characters along with the dialogue box near them). I really love the line arts in this game, even though they look different from the original game. I found that Aurica’s neutral face seems a little off. She is supposed to have big eyes, not cold-looking eyes like the one in this game.
The enemies’ sprites are inconsistent; some are sprite based while some are 3D-renders. I find it kind of strange that they don’t just stick with one kind of graphic for the whole game.
Exploration and Game’s Flow
You spend most of the time traveling in a twisted world, formed by components of several worlds merged together into several layers. You take the role of York Neely [AKA Yuuto in Japanese Version], a hot-blooded young man who woke up in this mysterious twisted world with his childhood friend, Miko Aiba [AKA Mikoto in the Japanese Version], and go on a quest to free the various souls that are trapped within this realm in hopes of returning to his own world.
The Hexagonal Icon on the top right will slowly change its color as you move around the world map. Once it is red, you will enter battles after walking a few more steps. Entering a battle restarts the icon back to blue.
While on the world map, you can press the  button to release small radar that will scan the area for souls. These souls will reward you with various items, or in some case, unlock optional scenes.
The battle takes place in an 8 by 3 panel grid, 4 columns for your side and 4 columns for the enemies. You can choose up to four party members onto the field. The position plays an important part of the strategy because it affects how you can heal your party. Each character also has different range of attacks, so they might not be able to hit the enemies in the back most row should they stand a little too far to the back.
The battle switch back and forth between Player’s Phase and Enemy’s Phase. Your party’s and enemies’ Agility determine who starts the battle first. Obviously, the higher your agility, the better chance you get the initiative.
In each phase, your character will be awarded with a number of ‘Action Points’ (AP). Each action, be it attacking, moving characters to a different panel, or using items, all consumes AP. Without AP, you cannot act and you will have to end your phase.
When your phase is over, your enemies get their turn and they will continuously attack your party until their AP runs out. There is nothing you can do aside from letting your characters take all the damage until the enemies are done attacking.
The battle system focuses heavily on forming special combos by using a specific combination of skills. There are three big categories of skills in this game – Physical Skills, Magic Skills (called Enchants), and Range Skills. Each of these skills are given special codes:
Physical Skills have 4 types – A, B, C, and D. Each type has 5 levels.
Enchant Skills have 7 types – Ae, Be, Ce, De, Ee, Fe, Ge, and He. Each type has 3 levels.
Range Skills have only one type with 3 levels.
By using these three skills in a specific order, you will be able to perform Attack, Magic, Range, and Mix combos.
Don’t worry if this sounds confusing, because it is indeed kind of puzzling to digest at first. I will not go any deeper into the detail since that is outside of this review’s scope. Just understand that you can form various combos by using a mix of these skills.
Luckily, the game has items called ‘Arcane Books’ and ‘Arcane Tomes’ that reveal the ‘formula’ to form certain skills.
Each character has 3 levels of Special Attacks, performed by expending SP and AP. SP can be accumulated from various actions such as forming long combos, comrade falling in battle, defeating an enemy, and etc. The special attacks can also be chained together to perform a powerful Joint Combo. These combos are generally a table turner and can dish out insane damage when used at the right timing.
Break, Burst, and Down
These three gauges are settled next to the enemies’ HP bar. Imagine these gauges as some kind of a ‘guard’ bar of the enemies. Attacking enemies will deplete these bars along with their HP. Once the bar is completely depleted, your attacks will deal more damage. In the case of depleting the ‘Break’ bar, your party will also get their AP recovered. Use this to your advantage when fighting against bosses with lots of HP. Keep in mind that the same can also happen to you, should the enemy depletes your ‘Break’ bar.
After depleting the enemy’s health bar, their HP bar will be replaced with the ‘Overkill’ gauge. Filling this gauge forces the enemy to drop items. These items range from common synthesizing materials to rare and powerful weapons.
Money, EXP, EP, PP, and TP
- Money is straightforward, you spend it to buy items in shops. Early on, it is pretty scarce. But after a certain point, you will wish that you could convert them into EP or PP.
- Collecting certain amount of EXP, like many other games, will level up your character, increasing their basic parameters. All characters get EXP whether or not they join the battle, unless their HP is 0. However, the characters that join the battle will get more EXP than ones that don’t.
- EP (‘Equipment Points’) can be spent in Marie’s Atelier to upgrade your weapons (more about the atelier below).
- TP (‘Technique Points’ I think) can be attained by forming long chains of combos in battle. These TP can be used to trade for incredibly powerful items at the ‘Save Point’. This means that you can pretty much break the game very early on if you like. Just be patient enough to collect that amount of TPs.
- PP (‘Party Points’) can be spent in the character’s status screen to directly increase their status. In main game, it doesn’t play a very big part. But in post-game, I heard that every single PP matters because enemies will dodge your attacks like crazy, and you will want to spend these precious points on your HIT status.
Each character has a specific set of moves that can be unlocked by leveling other skills to a certain level. For instance, to get Aurica’s Dragonferno, you need to level up Flambe to level 3. The skills will level up after using it for a set amount of times. There is no numerical display that tells you how many more times you have to use the skill. You only see a small bar telling you how far before the skill level up. Skills level up faster when used against enemies with levels higher than you.
These facilities are spread across this twisted world and they function as ‘towns’ for this game. You can resurrect your party members, buy items and equipments, use Marie’s Atelier (more below), trade TP for item, and travel to the other save points on other levels. Contrary to the name, you can save your game any where on the world map, not just at this facility.
Marie’s workshop is settled inside each save point and it is your main base for upgrading your party’s equipments. You can synthesize new and more powerful weapons, upgrade your current ones using EP, or even turn them up using ‘components’.
- Synthesizing Items is straightforward. First, you pick up the recipe cards to unlock the item’s ingredients list. After that, you give Marie the ingredients and she will synthesize your item for you.
- Your equipments can be upgraded using EP up to five levels. After that, if you choose to upgrade it one more time, you can convert that equipment into rare synthesizing components.
- Finally, using ‘components’ attained from enemy drops can directly increase boosts from your weapons. Each weapon, however, has a limited number of times you can use the components on.
The game has three endings – Bad, Normal, and Truth. To unlock the best ending, you have to perform various conditions, which is almost impossible to do without consulting a guide.
Clearing the game with the Truth Ending, not only gives you the best ending, but also unlocks the post game area.
Three Difficulty Levels
The game features three difficulty levels – Easy, Normal, and Hard. Once you pick a difficulty level, you are stuck with it. The difficulty level mostly affects the enemies’ parameters. But at the same time, it also affects the post game contents. To access the last post-game area, you have to be playing the game on Hard Mode.
Post Game Content
There are five unlockable characters available in the post-game area. This area can be accessed only if you cleared the game on Truth Ending. The events in the post-game areas mostly exist for the laughs and 4th wall breaking. You can see some of it here at 3:44, here, here, and here.
If you play the game on Hard Mode, you can also access the final post-game area called ‘Ida 3’. There you will face powerful opponents like you’ve never seen before. If you want to know what they are, read this entry.
There are various sidequests in the form of ‘titles’. Each title has a certain requirement, and upon fulfilling it, you will be rewarded with various free items, synthesizing recipe, and Arcane Books and Tomes. Some times, these titles also award you with really powerful weapons.
The conditions range from performing number of hits to fighting a specific number of fights to defeating a certain combination of enemies.
All characters are given a set of costumes to unlock. Equipping these costumes boost your characters’ parameters. For the purposes of fanservices, only female characters get a change in their appearance when changing costumes. Male characters get no appearance change whatsoever.
Costumes are unlocked by collecting a certain numbers of souls and watching various events.
Japanese and English Voice Options
The game offers two options for characters voice in the game – English and Japanese.
Generally speaking, the Japanese option is far superior to the English option. This is not to say that the English voice sucks (with the exception of Miko’s voice), since many great voice actors like Liam O’Brien, Michelle Ruff, Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, and Yuri Lowenthal (just to name a few) are here. However, there are more scenes voiced in Japanese. Many of the optional scenes aren’t voiced in the English option.
Upon clearing the game, you are allowed to make your clear save. Once you reload this save, you will be given the option to start the game anew with stuff carried over from the last play through. However, the difficulty level you choose on a new run will affect the amount of carry overs. The idea is the higher the difficulty level, the less carry overs you get.
There are so many things in this game that are just plain bad, tedious, and horrible.
- I don’t usually complain about Voice Acting in general. But oh dear god, this one sticks out so bad. Miko Aiba has one of the most earbreaking voice I’ve ever heard in my entire gaming career. It’s just so bad. How bad you ask? Well, listen to her for yourself. (Miko’s voice starts around 0:58)
- The choices of character selection for this game are extremely questionable. Some games, like Ar Tonelico, almost had their whole crew making appearance. Just throw in Jack, Kruche, and Radolf, and you have the entire AT1 crew. On the other hand, Atelier Marie only had Marie herself. Disgaea had only Etna and Prinny. I get that these two are almost the icon of the whole series, but what about Laharl and Flonne?
Finally, for a fan service game, this game had wayyyyyyyyy too many original characters. I mean admit it, 85% of the gamers who got this game got it because this game features their favorite characters from their favorite games. I totally wouldn’t mind trading some of the original characters for Laharl, Flonne, or heck, now that I’ve played Mana Khemia, I totally wouldn’t mind seeing Vayne, Roxis, or Flay in this game.
- While the Soul Search system reminds me of the older Wild ARMs games, the radar range is ridiculously small. You almost have to know where those damn souls are and search to hit the spot. To make matters worse, some souls do NOT appear until your Search Level is high enough. This means you need intense backtracking to get all the souls and the Truth Ending on the first run.
(Search Levels can be increased by releasing more souls. Go figure. Good luck wandering around the world map for hours.)
- To get the game’s best ending, you have to collect every single soul available and watch every optional events. Some events appear on previous layers of the world after a certain event in the main game occurred.
If the requirements stopped there, then it would have been only slightly unbearable. However, there are other stupid requirements like “Do NOT harm X boss on this and that battle”. Some battles force you to defeat that boss’s minions without ever harming the boss (battle ends when the boss is the only one left). If you hit the boss even the slightest, goodbye Truth Ending.
Unless you follow the guide, there is, as far as I know, almost no way you can tell these conditions.
Good thing the ‘Search Level’ carries over in a New Game+ and that makes getting the Truth Ending a little less insane and ridiculous since collecting souls is a lot less tedious. All you have to do now is watch out for the occasions you have to backtrack and watch out for the bosses that you are not supposed to harm.
For people who actually got the Truth Ending on your very first run, I tip my hat to you.
- Leveling the battle skills is stupidly tedious and grindy. You are required to use your skills repeatedly over and over again.
The worst part about this is that you NEED to level these skills in order to unlock the higher leveled skills, otherwise you will never be able to climb up the ‘combo ladder’. For a game that focuses so much on using different various skills to form combos, this totally destroys the intention of the game because you will find yourself using the same moves over and over again just to unlock the next skill.
Oh yes, and one of the reasons I won’t be playing this game on Hard Mode is because skills are NOT carried over. You will have to grind the skill levels AGAIN. No way in hell I am doing that.
(Good thing skills still get carried over if you start a new cycle on modes of the same or lower difficulties, otherwise I would actually have given up getting the truth ending altogether.)
- The battle system was hands down, nothing more than a flashy eye candy. While the combo system itself is not all that complicated as it seems, the whole battle comes down to nothing but climbing up the ‘combo ladder’ to form higher leveled combos. After that, you will have to sit down and watch that flashy combo for countless of times.
I mean, it’s not that bad and I love seeing flashy co-op combos. But it got old really fast and I had to turn the attack animations off just to speed things up.
- The ‘Active Skill’ system which allows you to equip various skill to improve your character is unbalanced. The ones that directly add to battle status (ATK+, DEF+, MAG+) are always outclassed by innate status skills (STR+, INT+, VIT+), making those skills completely useless.
Almost all of the non-base-status skills are useless. Only a handful of them (such as ‘Float’, ‘Status Resist’, and ‘HP Up’) are useful.
- Okay, what the heck is wrong the programmers?
First, they throw a level 120 normal encounter into a dungeon around mid-way into the game. Granted it’s a rare encounter, but it got me screwed a couple of times. Have I mentioned that this thing will dodge all of your attacks when its HP is lower than 25%? At that point, you can only hope you build up SP fast enough to hit the thing because Special Attacks can’t be dodged.
Next, around the last few areas of the game, the normal encounters become stupidly ridiculous and annoying. For one, they are constantly attacking my back row mage (YES MY AURICA!) instead of targeting the front row characters. It was like they completely ignore those characters all together and just gang up on my poor Aurica. Oh, Aurica wasn’t the only one who suffered that problem by the way. Marie and Lily + Whim shared the same fate.
And finally, what’s with that amount HP for the last few bosses of the game? Actually, cross that out. Why is Bourd Rade, a generic evil soldier who dies from a single snuff of my Aurica’s Boom in Ar Tonelico, freakingly more powerful than the final boss of this game!? He has insane amount of HP and builds up his own SP like crazy. A while after the fight began, he starts spamming his special attacks like crazy. Have I mentioned that he gains the ability to reduce all damage he received down to one fourth after he hits his 25% HP mark? Essentially, that means he got his whole health bar back.
- While the concept of synthesis itself is straightforward, you are faced with literally hundreds of items to synthesize, all of which contains huge variety ingredients and components scattered all around the world. Some items also required that you synthesize a certain item in order to use it as a component. Completing the synthesizing list is a nightmare. Once again I tip my hat to whoever got the Platinum Trophy for this game.
Oh yes, I’ve never talked about ‘Synthesis Accidents’, haven’t I? Basically, upon synthesizing, there is a chance that Marie will screw up the synthesis, creating an entirely new item that has nothing to do with what you were trying to create. Some times you ended up with godly items, and other times, your super rare ingredients are turned into junks. Unfortunately, there is completely no way to directly avoid this. At max level, Marie can still screw up 1 out of 10 synthesis attempt. Save your game and never synthesize more than five items in a row, so you won’t have to risk chucking your controller at your TV.
I honestly had high hopes for this game. But despite all those hypes, I can’t just close my eyes at how horrible some stuffs in this game were designed.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being ‘awesome’, this game gets a 6 from me.
Yes, a six. That’s really all I can give. And this is already being generous. I haven’t even included some of the areas I subjectively don’t like in the game (like the overall existence of Augustink, Demitri Maximoff, and Bourd Rade).
The game really felt like it hit the concept on spot, but flunked at executing it. The voice acting of some characters are unbearable and earbreaking. The character choices are questionable, and there are way too many original characters for a cross over game. I’d totally trade some playable baddies and OCs for other characters like Laharl, Flonne, or Vayne.
The battle system, in a way, reminds me of Breath of Fire IV’s combo system, but wayyyyyyy worse. I normally weight my score heavily on the game play, and this one honestly failed to deliver standard quality.
Without the fanservice, I’d probably give this game a four or five at most. Heck, without Aurica, I don’t know if I’ll even be interested in this game in the first place. This game seriously owes Aurica for my patronage.
All in all, if you only want this game because your favorite characters are in it, by all means, you would nerdgasm to see their attacks get upgraded. Otherwise, it’s a very mediocre and tedious game. Get the game only if you want those fanservices.
That’s it for my review. Hope you guys enjoyed reading my first negative review, and I’ll see you again next time.