Laxius Force Retrospective
Blending JRPGs and WRPGs? Laxius Force says, "Yes!"
Okay, I know it's probably a surprise that I'm writing an article about JRPGs (that's Japanese Role-Playing Games, for those of you who weren't aware) on a site dedicated to computer role-playing games, (most notably, Western RPGs), but if you know anything about me, it's that I grew up with console games, and console RPGs, specifically, were my first foray into the RPG genre. These console RPGs, at least the ones I've played, were mostly made byJapanese game developers, hence the JRPG acronym. Nowadays, it seems to be different. Western RPGS are all the rage on consoles and PC, and Japanese RPGs seem to be aimed more at handheld devices. We're not going to delve into what differentiates these two popular styles of the RPG strata, we're instead just going to focus on a game that blends a bit of both worlds together. After all, the official blurb on Desura says this about the game: "an epic, addicting RPG at the crossroads of games like Baldur's Gate (!!!) and the old Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest (double !!!)." That game is Laxius Force. Interested yet?
Laxius Force is a game developed by the small, French indie developer, Aldorlea Games. They have many games under their belts, including such titles as the Millennium series, the older Laxius Power series, and the series I'm playing, the Laxius Force games. All of these games have one thing in common - they aim to reproduce classic RPGs from years gone by, that most of us who grew up with a Nintendo or Super Nintendo controller in hand, remember fondly. That means they are complete with beautiful 16-bit graphics (that's Super Nintendo level for all you non-console players), enchanting music reminiscent of any older Final Fantasy game, and a wide cast of colorful characters who develop throughout your adventure. Oh, and they have turn-based, tactical combat, which should be a big plus for you old-school CRPG fans! Although I've only played the first game in the Laxius Force series, I can say that this game excels in all the areas that are important to creating a great RPG of this type.
West meets East
As for the blending of styles, the game seems to have struck a good balance. The story is more reminiscent of a Western RPG, yet some of the dialog seems like it could have came out of a vintage Final Fantasy game. The characters are a mixed bag as well. They all have distinct personalities, and one could say this is where the Baldur's Gate influence comes in, as there is lots of descriptive, sometimes-funny party banter to enjoy. Not to mention, there are many characters that can join your party, rather than the usual small amount of playable characters in a typical JRPG. The art design itself is not really anime, but again, strikes a good balance between looking like a JRPG or a WRPG. The game also features a quest log with side quests, and while JRPGs have these as well, this aspect also leans towards a more Westernized approach to the genre. In short, it feels like a good blend of styles, although it does lean towards the JRPG side of things a bit more. It reminds me of Final Fantasy 6 in quite a few ways, and that is a big compliment as that game is certainly an all-time classic and very special to me!
Speaking of compliments, here are a few big reasons why I have reached Nerdvana with this particular game. Let's examine them a bit.
#1 - The game is huge. 80 hours of content, 15 legendary heroes that can join your party, 500+ places to explore and more. As I mentioned, there are many quests, both of the main story variety as well as side quests to complete. In short, the game will keep you busy for awhile, especially as you search every nook and cranny, which leads me to my next point...
#2 - Secrets. This game has so many secrets. So much so, that on your first play-through, you will miss a ton of things if you aren't using a guide. There are hidden items placed in inconspicuous places, various unique items that serve a secret purpose, and hidden maps that take you to entirely new locations to explore. The game even has secret characters that can join your party, which should bring back some memories for fans of games like Final Fantasy 6 (Mog, anyone?). This goes hand in hand with...
#3 - Optional side content. This game has a ton of optional side content that leads you to new areas, new quests, new items and new encounters to discover. Have a chat with the Lizardman king after exploring his domain. He may even give you a special item if you play your cards right, and the best part is, the entire encounter was completely optional and rewarded those players who chose to explore thoroughly.
There are other things I can mention about why this game resonates so much with me. The colorful, 16-bit graphics, the solidly-written dialog (although the translation, at times, leaves something to be desired), classic RPG stat mechanics, interesting weapons and equipment, a fun battle system and a pretty high degree of overall challenge all play a part in making this an epic adventure to experience. And really, nostalgia sets in immediately upon starting the game and exploring the unique world before you. The entire look and feel of the game causes a release of endorphins in my brain that brings me right back to when I was 7 years old playing Final Fantasy in front of my living room TV. It just feels so good to play a throwback game like this in the current age of gaming, and the best part is, Aldorlea has so many other similar games to play, one can find themselves busy being awash with nostalgia for a long time!
For fans of early console RPGs, I can't recommend this game enough. It's not perfect, but it's a blast to play. Check it out on Desura or by going to the game's homepage, located here > http://www.aldorlea.org/laxiusforce.php.
Also, if you've made it this far, please help out Aldorlea Games by voting for their flagship series, the Millennium games, to be Greenlit on Steam. It only takes a minute of your time and would hopefully lead to seeing more of these types of games on more diverse platforms such as Steam.
Thanks for reading and happy gaming!
P.S. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of these types of games and if you've played anything from Aldorlea!