Title: Last Cloudia
Release Date: October 17, 2019
Reviewed On: iOS
In the old story vs. gameplay debate, even if the controls are amazing or there’s some addictive hook, I won’t care unless the plot is engaging. Last Cloudia is an RPG developed by AIDIS that hits the right notes with impressive graphics, lovable characters, and, of course, an epic tale. However, the fact that this is a mobile game, a gacha game, and a limited stamina game might be a turnoff for many gamers. I even had my issues with the last point.
Last Cloudia stars the hot-headed knight Kyle, what a name, who has teamed up with the cocky and fearless beast Rei, and Libette. Libette’s harder to describe; she’s a friendly version of Natalia from Tales of the Abyss. I’m not going to spoil the story, but it’s up there in terms of writing with other triple-A RPGs. This is even more surprising for a free-to-play gacha game. While the format is familiar (a supernatural force threatening the world and mysterious girl to save), there’s a lot to digest here.
Interactions between the characters are believable and don’t feel forced. Kyle and Rei have faced many trials together, and you can feel the history between the two. While Libette is new to the group, she remains level headed and acts as the ‘mom’ of the duo. However, her watchful eye doesn’t always catch all their antics. And while these characters are archetypes, AIDIS elevates things above the usual tropes.
Being a gacha game, you can occasionally get new units through rolls or story progression. However, most of the vending mechanics focus on Arks. These enhancements allow for base stat changes and additional abilities to your team when equipped. It’s an excellent system for characterization as you can focus on your small cast rather than amassing hundreds of forgettable soldiers.
Once your Arks are set, there is a significant difference during a battle: whether it’s hitting harder or having access to various spells and abilities. Fights play out with some awesome cinematics on the top half of your screen that is reminiscent of the Tales franchise. The bottom half is where you repeatedly tap for basic attacks, special skills, magic, and a limit break like action.
Switching between characters is as easy as tapping their portrait, keeping fights fluid. It can be a bit repetitive, but I quickly memorized the location of each of the buttons so that I could look at the impressive visuals of each battle. I realize this method might not work for a lot of people looking to enjoy this game, and unfortunately, the stamina system does not help.
Arks use up souls that are depleted and then gained back after time from regenerating fountains. You are required to use either blue or red souls to participate in an upcoming mission. And, the rarer and more powerful the Ark, the higher the soul cost. After a couple of minutes of gameplay, I noticed that I was running out of souls and couldn’t continue playing: I found this very frustrating as the story was so compelling that I just wanted more of it.
Similar gacha games such as Brown Dust at least give enough playtime. There are cheaper arks I could use, but the base stats and abilities they provide aren’t as good. It was disappointing that I felt I was being punished with wait times for wanting to use my most reliable skills.
Last Cloudia combines a lot of magnificent ideas from other JRPGs. The insanely beautiful visuals and gripping story are what fans of the genre will latch on to. I’ve never felt so connected to a cast of characters since meeting the boys of Final Fantasy 15.
While the gameplay is fast-paced, it does feel a bit repetitive; especially since the game’s design almost forced me to never look at the bottom half of the screen so I can enjoy what’s happening during a fight. The biggest issue is having such an engaging story being cut up by gacha mechanics. I still enjoyed my time, and if you don’t mind those awkward pauses just for your souls’ meter to refill, I think you will too.
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