More Level-5 talk.
This time let’s examine the PS3 titles and downturn in reception from the PS2 games.
White Knight Chronicles/White Knight Chronicles 2:
I didn’t even know about this franchise until WKC2 came out in 2010. But, as it turns out, the first White Knight Chronicles came out in 2008, five years after Rogue Galaxy in the the U.S.
Many people enjoyed WKC, but the game was not so well received from game critics, with review scores ranging from 89-40 and overall standing of 64 on Metacritic.
For context, Rogue Galaxy ranks from 100-60 on Metacritic with an overage score of 83.
Game review scores don’t necessarily mean anything about the quality of a game. However, it is important to note that they can have an impact on game sales. Good reviews likely get more attention from consumers and in turn, lead to sales for games.
While reviews for Level-5’s newest entry didn’t do well, I bought it as soon as I found out about it. I had to. I love Level-5 and I can’t not play one of their console games.
And again, I played for a big chunk of time before giving up on it and just set it down. I wanted to finish the first one before I played the second, so it’s safe to assume I didn’t even play the second game.
My favorite thing about Level-5 games wasn’t even really present in this game. Level-5 has a propensity to create fantastic characters and a unique world to live in. WKC does not have those attributes.
The game couldn’t have been more cookie cutter with the story, the characters, or the world design. Nothing set it apart. I didn’t have any character to really appreciate or want to spend time with developing their story.
I can get past bad mechanics or less-than-ideal fighting in favor of story with RPGs, but the pacing of Level-5 games never feels right and it throws off my appreciation for the stories in their games. Like with the PS2 games, I got around 20 hours in before giving up and moving on.
I just don’t think whoever is writing these games can pace a story well enough to have players finish the game. The pace isn’t necessarily solely dependent on the story, as game mechanics contribute to the overall feel as well.
If I have to grind in a certain place for a long period of time without the story being compelling are the characters interesting, I lose focus and drift away.
Everything about WKC just put me off and will likely stay unfinished forever. Whereas with PS2 era games I can imagine myself playing through at least once to completion just to say that I did.
Ni No Kuni:
Along comes Ni No Kuni in 2013.
With the help of Studio Ghibli, Level-5 remakes and reorganizes the DS that shares the same name with much fanfare. People love Ni No Kuni.
Its charm comes from the amazing graphics and the unique characters. The game movies look incredible and set the game apart.
Like I said, people love Ni No Kuni…except for me. I just couldn’t get into the combat or the ultimately uninteresting monster catching. The game just didn’t add up.
Of course, the game enthralls you from the beginning with a curious story about a boy trying to help his mother. (Sounds similar Max from Dark Cloud 2.)
It just falls off. I get to Castaway Cove and can never make it across the water. I just stop there.
I get bored with the clunky combat and I never really found Familiars that I really enjoyed. Monster collecting games are cool because they contain a variety of monsters that players can find and capture.
I just never really liked any of the familiars and their “upgrades.” Most of them are just palette swaps and then a gender possibility choice at the end. They just stay boring.
I think I’m one of the few in the camp that didn’t like the game who actually played it. As with previous Level-5 games, I think the story falters after the initial entertaining hook.
I think something similar happens with other JRPGs. I tend to lose interest after some time and it’s more obvious with Level-5 games. I’m aware of my own inability to complete games.
I think the writing and pacing suffer in Level-5 games. The games shouldn’t feel like a chore to continue but in my experience, they just get off track about one-third of the way through.
End of the PS3 Era:
Level-5 released a ton of games for the 3DS while they pretty much abandoned the PS3. To be fair it’s only been 5 years since the last PlayStation release, but there have been a plethora of Yo-Kai Watch’s and Professor Leyton’s during that same time period.
For the most part, the PS3 titles from Level-5 were less than stellar, with the exception being Ni No Kuni.
I never felt the attached to the PS3 titles that I did with the PS2 generation of their games. While I think the games maintained similar levels of charm and unique characters, the writing suffers in the game and creates odd pacing.
Hopefully, with Ni No Kuni 2 the writing and pacing improve and judging from some reviews many of the problems seem to have solved some of the problems of the first game.
Level-5 Part 3 coming soon.
Thanks for reading.