We take the same thing and start again
The Forsaken Maiden is built on the same foundation as The Isle Dragon Roar, so I recommend you read the test. Let’s remember the basics: the player explores the world by moving through maps, revealed during movement, and fights take place turn by turn, with a gem system: the more powerful the action, the more it consumes. . Therefore, it is necessary to be thrifty at times in order to use a particularly powerful spell.
We also find the same importance given to narration (always expressed in the form of cards, with the narrator speaking in English or Japanese and subtitles in French) and, more anecdotally, the same card mini-game in the different towns.
Yes, allow me to quote an excerpt from the game test above, Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden. Indeed, the Voice of Cards formula, present in all three games, is beginning to be known. Also, I prefer to dwell here on what is changing.
Let’s start with what we noticed most quickly: the narrator’s voice has changed. Exit the voice actor selected for the first two games, put in a female voice. To be honest, I’m not a fan of this change. It’s not a gender thing, but I thought the original voice actor was better. However, this is not decisive: although the narration occupies a prominent place in the game and although the new voice responsible for it is a little less good than the previous one, it is at a fairly acceptable level.
So, let’s focus on what caught your attention when reading the title: Pokemon. However, Shin Megami Tensei would probably be a more fitting comparison. Indeed, while in previous games the main characters gained abilities as they leveled up (The Isle Dragon Roar) or from encounters (The Forsaken Maiden), The Beasts of Murden also offers its own formula. Specifically, all characters start with two basic skills, usually basic attack and basic defense. By fighting monsters, it is possible to capture their soul, unlocking a unique ability, which can then be equipped to the character of your choice.
This formula works very well. It offers significant customization, as you can freely distribute skills, as well as nice progression, with new skills being unlocked very regularly. Rather, these skills have levels (ranging from 1 to 5 in general), marking a progression and therefore modifying the way of playing. Thus, the ability of one of the monsters allows, for four gems, to attack by multiplying its damage. At first glance, this is of little interest – four gems is huge and the multiplication is only 1.2 at level 1. It increases to 1.5 at level 2, giving contextual but still limited interest, then to 2 at level 3, the threshold at which it becomes really useful.
The hit of each skill is fixed, but its effectiveness increases during the game, renewing the most efficient strategy regularly. However, this improvement is also one of the game’s flaws, in fact, getting a new ability is random: the enemy must drop the loot (which does not always happen, even if certain objects can increase the probability of this happening) So, top of all, choose the right safe from the two or three on offer.
As a consequence of this system, if skills are sometimes acquired or upgraded without paying attention to them during the adventure, it is also very possible to ignore them, except by using items for this sole purpose and, especially, fighting monsters in a loop. until luck is on our side. It would have been much more interesting if this upgrade was gradual and not random, i.e. you unlocked a skill by engaging a monster five times, then upgraded to level two by killing it five more times, etc.
All in all, the concept is nice and it’s the game’s biggest strength, but its execution is flawed, which is a shame.
And we start again
It is necessary to remember a flaw of the first work – the presence of random fights. During the exploration, the player is regularly attacked by monsters, against which the only challenge is to win without losing life points (since these do not automatically increase at the end of the confrontation). However, since the bestiary is very limited, these random encounters give the title a terribly monotonous aspect: the player spends time performing the same actions over and over again, until he can’t take it anymore.
In The Isle Dragon Roar, it was one flaw among others. Here, it is really the main problem of the game: the latter has a terribly slow and monotonous mid-game, which almost managed to put me off from the title. It’s a shame, because the narration is of a good quality: it’s not very original, but it doesn’t hesitate to tackle very dark subjects and the English dubbing really gives it credit. Similarly, the combat system is actually quite rich, but this pervasiveness of random fights, which all look the same and only have one optimal response, serves it completely.
What ? Should I stop repeating the content of my previous test? Perhaps, but it is a good illustration of the recycling of Voice of Cards, whose bestiary is very similar and, above all, which suffer from random fights. The Beasts of Burden does not escape this pitfall, although it is both less serious and more serious in this new work. Less serious because the skill system makes these fights interesting (allowing you to recover the skills of defeated monsters) and forces you to vary your way of playing throughout the adventure. More serious because the game offers several dungeons in which the movement is not free, which increases the number of random fights.
The consequence of all this is that for this third work, I sometimes went against one of the first recommendations of the game: during certain phases, I cut the sound -however, the title depends a lot on its soundtrack and its dubbing- to listen to podcasts while you play. Tiredness marked me to reach this extreme.
However, it’s clear that the narrative is better controlled here, particularly as the story is shorter (approximately 12-15 hours, similar in length to the first game and much shorter than the second). Therefore, the random fights are less disruptive, as they are limited to fairly short phases of the story.
Plus, the latter is still as nice as ever. After a first work focused on a dragon that terrorizes the region and a second featuring the priestesses who must save their island, this third game focuses on the relationship between humans and the monsters, often hostile, that surround them. . The writers have a real gift for creating intriguing locations and very charismatic characters, although I must admit that in the tenth location that looks super cool, but actually hides a big secret, the formula tends to work. a little less good for me.
Let’s mention in passing that another of my recurring criticisms, the fact that the names of the characters in English and French are not the same, creating a discrepancy between the dubbing and the subtitles, is still present. Finally, I discovered random menus where you could speed up the game a bit, which is a very noticeable change. Too bad this option is hidden and you have to restart it every time you start the game.
Two is enough, three is too much?
Two days ago, Sony Santa Monica Announced that god of war ragnarokdirect sequel to the game released in April 2018, it was officially finished and therefore ready for release on November 09, 2022. Four and a half years is a reasonable period between two games of the same license, some (Grand Theft Auto, Tea elder scrollsetc.) still takes much longer on this.
By contrast, the first Voice of Cards installment, The Isle Dragon Roar, was released on October 22, 2021. Less than a year later, two new games have already been released, bringing the total for the series to three. Each one offers an independent story, affecting the principles of the game, but the heart of the gameplay, the art direction, the bestiary or the miniatures of most of the non-player characters are common to all three games. With releases so often, isn’t there a risk of getting tired of this formula?
Personally… no. Certainly, I always curse these surprise outings, which upset my schedule. It is true that in my first test I praised the originality of the proposal, but this originality is necessarily less and less as it is cloned. It is true that, each time, I throw against some glitches in the game that have not been fixed yet. However, none of this is conclusive.
Isle Dragon Roar, The Forsaken Maiden and The Beasts of Burden are three good stories, which are not redundant; That is the most important. The basic formula is similar, but it works well and, above all, it adapts to the plot every time. Also, I have a great time every time and I can only recommend each game, although the second one is the one that cost me the most.
Test carried out on PC by Alandring from a version provided by the publisher.