Publisher: NIS America (EU) / Atlus (US)
As most reluctant heroes do, Stella Glow-protagonist Alto starts as a country boy in a small town. One day, he hears a song coming from the forest (which is odd, since song has been absent on the planet for thousands of years), where he discovers the lone Hilda. But after the chance encounter, Hilda reveals she’s the Witch of Destruction, hellbent on destroying the world with her Harbingers. As Hilda is about to destroy Alto’s hometown, he and Lisette are rescued by the Royal Knights and whisked back safely to the kingdom. Alto joins the 9th Regiment for the sole purpose of gathering the other Witches to stop Hilda.
SRPG’s are a hard sell with me, for no other reason than I suck at them, as such I tend not to play them. To date only one game has ever gotten past this, and actually became one of my most played games: Fire Emblem Awakening. Now however there’s a second that’s gotten past my inability to play the game well, thus getting frustrated, and reach a level where I’ll actually be playing this a lot more.
Now, before I start let me be clear on this, if you’re expecting a game with the depth, complexity and replayability of the afore mentioned Fire Emblem, you’ll be disappointed. Stella Glow feels more like an introduction to SRPG’s, so it’s a lot more restrained, and in some ways it’s better for it.
Let’s get into the the game!
Sadly the demo doesn’t carry into the main game, so if you’ve played the demo you’re going to be repeating the content over again (unless I missed an option somewhere!). Personally I didn’t really like this, since the prologue isn’t that fun. It was okay the first time I played it, and I loved meeting Hilda for the first time, and I have to admit the bit of story we get does whet the tongue perfectly. However at the same time it gets tedious rather fast since there’s nothing to change in it. This is why I feel the game is better aimed at people new to the SRPG genre.
It does a fairly good job of explaining how an SRPG will play out, and introduces the mechanics most commonly found in the genre. However it doesn’t overload you with options, it gives you just enough to get you into the game, then as you get used to it gives you a bit more and then a bit more.
As someone who struggles with SRPG’s I found this approach most beneficial, as I didn’t find myself getting frustrated over not knowing what I was supposed to be doing or going.
Combat plays out in typical SRPG style, each map is grid based, you can move a certain number of squares, attack, use a skill or item, wait or a combination of them. Before you start you get to pick and deploy your party. However the scope of your deployment is very restricted, intact you’re limited to a six square block, and you’re only choice is which character is deployed and how they’re lined up. You get the odd exception, where you’re part is split up so you’ll be in different locations on the map. Again, while this is helpful at first as you learn I would have liked to seen it open up more later on.
The actual combat is your typical SRPG fare, with cut scene’s detailing the attack. These little cut scenes were really well done, and I did enjoy watching them. However they don’t really have a lot of diversity in them. For example Alto’s double slash, is always the exact same cut scene; regardless of whether he’s in front, behind, to the side, above or below the target. I’d have loved to seen some other perspectives.
One of the things I loved however are the chibi characters, these were perfectly well
made, and came across perfectly. Especially the witches, I loved the way they looked when they started to sing, especially Hilda.
However I also need to point out that at some points, such as when Alto ‘conducts’ a witch, the cut scene is horribly low quality, blurred and fuzzy, which considering the rest of the movies tend to be decent quality (by 3DS standards) its very disappointing.
Graphically the game is pretty par the course for the genre, which isn’t a bad thing; but it’s also nothing to write home about. It’s got it’s moments where it’s really good, and it’s moments where it’s just okay.
What did disappoint me however was the 3D effect, it’s barely in, almost to the point where it’s barely enough to qualify as a 3D game. This is a trend I’ve seen a lot of lately in 3DS games, and it’s rather sad. In the end I simply turned off the 3D screen so as to save battery and didn’t really notice anything. Though admittedly in cut scene’s the 3D does work really well and looks amazing. However given how few of these there are (and I don’t count repeated scenes, such as skill usage) it’s
barely, as I said, enough to qualify. The rest of the art is decent, and again par of the course. I do find the over use of fan service designs for the women to be a little off putting, but these are the tropes of japan coming through.
The VA is something that always needs to be considered in these types of games, since the actors are what carry the game a lot of the time.
For the most part the VA’s are pretty solid, in the time I’ve played (around 15 hours), I’ve only encountered one that made me wince. A secondary character who is supposed to be a little girl, but has a mature voice. It just didn’t match with what she was saying and the setting. While I get it was a secondary character and thus had little effort, personally it just felt wrong.
The other characters I’ve encountered so far have been pretty solid, with the exception of Lisette. However with her it’s personal preference, I just didn’t like her voice. Popo and Sakuya were a lot better and more fitting, and I found the others to be good as well. Especially those of Klaus and Archibald.
I would have liked the option of original japanese VA’s, but the lack of them hasn’t hindered my enjoyment of this release.
Story wise, I’ve enjoyed it so far, I’ve just recruited Sakuya the fire witch, and frankly the story so far has been fun. It’s cheesy as hell, but so bad it’s actually funny. The characters personalities have been pretty much in line with their element thus far, which has made for some funny interactions.
Some of the lines the characters have come out with have had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to die!
What’s more the story has actually managed to keep me interested, and I’ll be keeping on playing from now on to see how it ends.
However it’s biggest flaw in my opinion is it’s lack of replayability. There’s no variations available, and while you can focus on certain characters in you’re free time (and you’ll need to) there’s no reason to play again to see different results. Since so far, from what I’ve seen, you can get around this with tuning.
Overall I think this is a game well worth picking up if you’re wanting to get into SRPG’s but found games like Fire emblem to daunting, it’s a perfect introduction to the genre. However if you looking for innovation this isn’t the game for you, this is a ‘typical’ SRPG game, it ticks all the right boxes and does it well enough.
I’ve spent a good 15hours in the game now and am looking forward to finishing the game, which will probably take around 20hours judging from what I’ve seen so far.