Finally, I managed to complete Jeanne D'Arc on my PSP. So like I promised, I shall write out a review. I wanted to write because this Turn Based Strategy (TBS) game is extremely good in many ways. In my opinion, it is the most enjoyable game I have ever played since...a hell long time. I think it is the best game right now a PSP owner can have (maybe other than Monster Hunter 2 Freedom...if you've got friends to play with that is).
Nevertheless, let us get on with the in depth review:
Genre: Role-Playing > Console-style RPG
Developer: Level 5
ESRB Rating: T
*spoilers ahead, highlight to read*
Some people say that Jeanne D'Arc is similiar to Final Fantasy Tactics in certain ways. That is not far from the truth. As far as story goes, Jeanne D'Arc have certain parts in the game where it can be related to FFT's story.
Long ago, there were 5 armlet-wielding warriors (I don't know if they have a title for that), who used their powers to weaken a great demon and seal him in some powerful gem. Years later during a war between the French and the English, the Duke of Bedford (one of the armlet wielders) released the demon and placed him into the child King Henry VI's body, for the sake of his people and the real King Henry VI himself. Luther, another armlet wielder, tries to stop him, but failed. Eventually, both Henry's spirit and Luther were cast out into the wilderness.
Jeanne D'Arc, or more commonly known as Joan of Arc, was born to Jacques d'Arc in a humble village known as Doremy, as according to history. She had 2 friends which would tag along with her in her adventures: Roger and Liane, both fictional characters. Roger is a mercenary who had lost his memories when he first arrived upon Doremy years ago, and Liane is supposedly Jeanne's sister. They were all preparing for a festival when disaster strikes. The village was burned and Jeanne obtained an armlet. Afterwards, Jeanne swore to join the army and defeat the English.
The story then proceeds as according to history. With a twist. Before the part in history where Jeanne was captured and raped, in the game, Jeanne fell into a pit trying to save Liane. Presumably dead, Liane impersonated Jeanne and carried Jeanne's role in history, right till the end when she got captured and burnt on a stake.
Some parts in the story that are similar to FFT are as follows:
- First stage is outside a chapel
- Important people turning into powerful demons
- You fight those demons until the end, you fight the most powerful one.
- Game involves God, Christians, The Holy Bible, etc...you get the drift.
- and some more I can't remember right now...
Overall, story is great and interesting.
Although you don't get to create your own custom character, or change classes, the game offers a good variety of customization. Enter skill gems! Each character can equip a certain amount of skill gems depending on level. Skill gems are divided into 4 categories: Weapon Active, Weapon Passive, Spells, Innate (my own naming at least).
Weapon Active skill gems are restricted to the weapon a character is carrying. For example, a sword user cannot equip a spear Active skill gem. Same for Weapon Passive. Spells can the equipped by anyone. And lastly, Innate skill gems are gems that passively improve your character stats + more.
There are many other mechanics such as Burning Auras, Skill Binding, differences between attacking from front/side/rear...but I'll let the game explain all that :p
The Levels in this game are challenging, unique and above all, fun. They are all creatively made, and can be difficult sometimes (of course unless you power level). Missions include protecting an AI, hold for a certain amount of certains, and the classic defeating all the enemies. There are many many situations the level put you through. Starting from multiple separate positions, fighting on a long bridge, fighting without skills are some of the examples.
Obstacles such as trees, rivers, doors are well-placed. Well-placed meaning I notice their existence. Rivers are irritating to cross, and the trees blocking your path can also be frustrating.
Overall, the levels are very well designed.
There are very beautiful anime cutscenes throughout the game. Voice acting is done well for an English dub. All the characters more or less has a French-like accent in those cutscenes. Music and sounds are also done well.
Perhaps one problem was the lack of animations / particle effects. Some spell effects are reused and repackaged to my dismay. However, that is only a small part of the game.
Graphics are cell-shaded and beautifully drawn. I'm not really an art guy as far as standard digital art goes. I like what I think if nice and the art in Jeanne D'Arc is nice.
I would give this game: 7.5/10