Title: Record of Agarest War Mariage
Developer: Compile Heart
Release Date: January 31, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Idea Factory International
The niche JRPG scene in the west seems to be headed by only a handful of companies who consistently deliver these titles. The stories themselves shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but the battle systems and adventure usually provide a solid experience for fans. Similarly, the games require players to attach themselves to the cast of characters, who are usually waifu anime girls.
One of these companies is Idea Factory International, and they’ve brought to the west Record of Agarest War Mariage for PC. Being a game released originally on PSP, I had my doubts about the level of features that this game could include, but after playing, I can say that this decent adventure is enough to hold the attention of western fans, but if you’re expecting the strategic battle system and deep story-driven adventure of the other Agarest War titles, then you will be let down.
Record of Agarest War Mariage has a pretty interesting beginning where we meet the cast of characters as they are already on an adventure. The story follows Rain, who has been granted the responsibility of wielding the powerful Ciel Blade, a weapon that is said to be able to destroy the Archdemon. This is easier said than done, in a way, because even though Rain is the chosen one, he isn’t technically the person who will take down the Archdemon, that has been fated to his heir.
Record of Agarest War Mariage is a multigenerational game, much like the other titles in the series, players must interact with their female party member in order to increase their affection to the point where they fall in love and have a child. The path of story changes depending on who you choose and it’s up to the player to decide which traits get transferred to their offspring. Choosing a mate is fairly complicated, especially if you put a lot of time into leveling up your party members as well as their job classes.
The story of Record of Agarest War Mariage is okay at best, I never really liked Rain, but that’s okay because you only have to put up with him for one generation. The female characters all fall into a personality trope so you can expect some comical moments between the cast. Given that the game has multiple routes, characters, and endings the adventure as a whole carries more weight than just choosing a waifu. This entry in the Record of Agarest War series is streamlined to include this feature, but its overall premise falls short in the end, and I ended up having more fun level grinding and taking on quests than worrying about the Archdemon.
The battle system in Record of Agarest War Mariage is pretty basic at first glance but has many systems that are rather impressive for a game that wears its waifus proudly. Each character can have one of four different classes equipped, Attacker, Defender, Supporter, and Healer. This isn’t just for show either, each character has unique skills tied to these classes that require players to spend time leveling up in order to unlock. So even though you think Rain is good at being an Attacker, he also has some great Healing Skills that you might want him to learn. This is a nice feature because it keeps you from getting too comfortable in your abilities. Sure, it’d be easy to just not touch them, but you’ll regret it come baby making time when your offspring inherits your abilities.
In battle, players can use a basic attack, Skills that consume MP, and Special attacks the consume GP. Furthermore, players can use Link attacks that do some massive damage. I’d also like to add that the skills available are rather unique, such as, a trap or a guard that protects the entire party. These moves are crucial to learning for the player because the game can get pretty unforgiving during the later dungeons.
Record of Agarest War Mariage has random increases in difficulty, but what makes it tougher are the massive amounts of random battles that you’ll encounter while exploring dungeons. This means that by the time you actually reach the boss there’s a good chance your GP will be depleted, so conserving it is for the best. All in all, I thought the battle system in this game was its biggest strengths. It definitely blended old turn-based RPG systems with unique features that were new and interesting to use in battle. Although this game differs from the titles in the series before it, I appreciated that the developers still took chances on the battle system.
Exploring the world in Record of Agarest War Mariage is kept fairly basic. Players move around the map to icons that represent towns, dungeons, and events. Events are picked up in quests that players can take on by visiting towns. There are a few different types of quests to take on and not all of them lead to an event, instead, some fetch quests can usually get completed while on the more important event missions. All in all, this structure works in the game’s favor because it’s almost impossible you’ll get lost or stuck so as the player you’re constantly moving forward through the narrative.
Town’s also have an Inn where players can sleep to replenish their HP, MP, and GP. Additionally, the Inn allows gives players the chance to hang out with the girls and raise their affinity with each of them. Events are usually just a one on one conversation, but they are crucial if you want to know more about the characters’ backstory. I’m only saying this because the game starts you pretty far along in the group’s adventure so while understanding how they each grew up isn’t totally necessary, but the game does give the player the chance to learn more about the characters through these events.
These scenes also lead to events known as Unification. This is where players can lay down with one of the female characters and find their sweet spot that resides somewhere on their body. Obviously, this means you need to look for it and interact with them. I found these scenes to be pretty cheesy, but it could also be seen as a reward for all the hard work you put in staying up late talking with them when you probably should have been sleeping. In all seriousness, this feature does help with the immersion and also makes it a little more difficult to choose who you are going to Unify with at the end of the generation.
Music in the game is, for the most part, awesome, but the battle theme gets old pretty fast. There is also Japanese audio for the characters during some of the events which was nice. Graphically, the game isn’t going to impress any, but the attack animation and illustrations make up for the sub-par in-battle character and enemy models. However, as I mention, the character designs are really nice and each character has something about them that sticks out in your mind and makes them memorable. Except for Rain, I thought that he resembled Michael Jackson or someone who did drugs, not that those two things have anything in common.
As for the PC port of the game, nothing was really added and customization option was kept at a minimum. The developer could have added modern features such as an autosave, text skip, or fast forward option to make the game more accessible. However, being a fan of PSP games in general left forgiving these left out features for the most part.
Record of Agarest War Mariage was a strange experience because I never really expected to play this game. Aside from the generational mechanic, the game shares very little similarities with the other entries in the series. With that said, I had a decent time with the game that drew me in with its fairly deep and unique battle system.
Don’t go into Record of Agarest War Mariage thinking it’s a game from 2019, it isn’t. The game’s visuals and systems show their age, so it’s important to remember that this was a PSP game. However, the team at Idea Factory International put together a nice version of it for western players and I think niche JRPG fans will appreciate this adventure.
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