Tears to Tiara II (Review) Playstation 3

Tears to Tiara II (Review) Playstation 3
Review Score:

Tears to Tiara II by developer Aquaplus is a strategy JRPG that follows the tribulations of the Canaanities and their child-like leader, Hamil. Enslaved by the Empire, Hamil and his people are forced to forsake their Goddess, dismantle all her temples, and work as slaves or face the consequences. While dismantling their God’s temple as per the Empire’s demands, Hamil is whipped by the guards repeatedly for ‘sleeping’ on the job.

The game – which plays out like a religious story – sees the story’s protagonist wishing for the return of his peoples’ Goddess, Ba’al, to free his people from the Empire’s oppression. Hamil’s wish is granted, as the Goddess returns to Earth to help Hamil awaken the power inside him.

Tiara II is a hybrid visual novel with the occasional combat sequence thrown in for good measure. The majority of the game is spent experiencing the story and learning about the characters as they develop. There are times when the story gets in the way of gameplay, causing a slight disconnect between the two experiences. The biggest issue is the length of some scenes, which can literally last 150-minutes or longer. An auto skip feature does exist to quicken the pace, but it’s only useful when you’re trying to skip through text that you have already read.

The combat system is similar to other SPRGs, but with less emphasis on statistics and more on strategy. Every character in the game world  – be it your party members or enemies  – belong to one of seven elements, which includes Fire, Water, Wind and Earth, among others. Called attributes, these abilities share a common strong-weak relationship with each other. For example, a character that possess the Water Attribute will be stronger than someone that uses the Fire Attribute. It’s a simple check and balance system that can be used to defeat your foes, if used properly. Each attribute has a ‘favored’ state or ‘Elemental Cycle’ at regular intervals, and those with the same attribute have their stats enhanced. Your characters become more effective in battle when both Attribute Affinity and Element Cycle are used.

Melee characters (i.e. sword and spear users) have increased health and defense, and are used in the front lines. Spear weapons can attack two enemies at once and two tiles ahead of where the character is standing. Party members that use staffs or tomes can use two types of attacks: a standard attack that doesn’t use MP (magic points) and magic that does. Magic users obviously have a short melee reach, so it’s important to rely on their magic abilities. Magic spells range from the typical ‘heal allies’ skill or putting an enemy to sleep.

Party members and enemies have an ‘influence’ on the squares they stand on. Known as Zone of Control (ZOC), this feature helps you block incoming attacks, while also protecting weaker allies in the back line. Archers and magic users, for example, benefit the most from the ZOC feature. The game also has a feature where you can ‘rewind’ to your last turn. Known as the ‘Rewind’ ability, this feature comes in handy when you’re not happy with the outcome of your previous move. It’s possible to rewind up to twenty turns, so it must be used sparingly.

The Rewind feature does have a few quirks — if you rewind a turn and perform the same missed attack under the same circumstances, the results will end up the same. It’s not possible to ‘Rewind’ a rewind, as odd as it may sound. For example: if you’re playing Turn 6 and then rewind to Turn 3, you can’t jump to move 5. As confusing as this may sound, it essentially means that you can’t ‘jump’ around rewinds and manually manipulate the outcome of combat.

Party members gain energy as they fight. Displayed as a Chain Stock (CS), this ability allows the player to perform consecutive strikes on a foe. During a CS, a red circle will encompass the character in question. During this sequence, the player must press Circle Button before the circle disappears to be successful. Any missed opportunities to perform the Chain Attack can result in weaker attacks.

It is possible to store a Chain Attack for later use. When a stored CS is finally executed, it can invoke skill amplification or expand the radius of certain skills. Additionally, it will increase the damage inflicted by the player’s party member.

The combat system provides a simple, intuitive design that can only be compared to NIS America’s Disgaea series. The combat sequences are the highlight of Tiara II, as they’re on par with some of the best games in the SSRPG genre.  Sadly, the game doesn’t provide enough gameplay to keep hardcore gamers entertained. In a lot of ways, the combat sequences feel like an afterthought to the story, which ultimately hinders the experience.

Graphically, Tears to Tiara II suffers from low-res textures, muddy colors and ‘jagged’ outlines around the 3D models. The only redeeming quality are the illustrations used during the story; they’re colorful, bold and full of expression. They tend to offset the clunky, first-gen graphics of the actual game.

Tears to Tiara II is a hybrid visual novel that tries to be an SRPG. While hardcore gamers will  be disappointed by the lack of gameplay, fans of visual novels will enjoy Tiara II for its enthralling story, likable characters and professional Japanese voice acting. Just don’t expect the same level of gameplay seen in games such as Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Aquaplus
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB: T (Teen)
Price: $39.99

Tears to Tiara’s Official Website

Review Score
The game suffers from low-res textures, muddy colors and rough-looking 3D models.
Memorable music and professional Japanese voice acting.
Fun combat sequences that are far and few between
Tears to Tiara II is a worthwhile purchase if you enjoy visual novels.
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