Let’s take the same and start over
The Forsaken Maiden is based on the same foundations as The Isle Dragon Roar, of which I therefore recommend you to read the test. Let’s remember the basic concepts: the player explores the world by moving on the maps, revealed during the movement, and the fights take place turn by turn, with a system of gems: the more the action is powerful, the more it consumes. It is therefore necessary to be thrifty at times to use a particularly powerful spell.
We also find the same importance given to the narrative (always expressed in the form of cards, with a narrator speaking in English or Japanese and subtitles in French) and, in a more anecdotal way, to the same mini-game of cards in the different villages.
Yes, I would like to quote an excerpt from the previous game test, Voice of cards: The forsaken maiden. In fact, the Voice of Cards formula, present on the three games, begins to make itself known. Furthermore, I prefer to dwell here on what is changing.
Let’s start with what we notice faster: the narrator’s voice has changed. Exit the duplicator selected for the first two games, place a female voice. To be honest, I’m not a fan of this change. It’s not a gender issue, but I thought the original voice actor was better. However, this is not decisive: even if the narrative occupies a prominent place in the game and even if the new voice that is responsible for it is a little less good than the previous one, it is on a widely acceptable level.
So, let’s focus instead on what caught your eye when reading the title: Pokemon. However, Shin Megami Tensei would probably be a more fitting comparison. In fact, while in previous games the main characters gained abilities by leveling up (The Isle Dragon Roar) or from their 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 his choice.
This formula works very well. It offers significant customization, as you can freely distribute skills, as well as pleasant progression, new skills unlocked very regularly. Better, these skills have levels (ranging from 1 to 5 in general), which mark a progression and thus modify the way you play. Therefore, 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 are huge and multiplication is only 1.2 at level 1. It increases to 1.5 at level 2, which gives it contextual, but still limited interest, then at 2 at level 3, the threshold from which it becomes really useful.
The hit of each skill is fixed, but its effectiveness increases during the game, renewing the more efficient strategy regularly. However, this improvement is also one of the flaws of the game, in fact getting a new skill is random: the enemy has to release loot (which does not always happen, although some objects can increase the probability of this happening) so, above all, choose the right safe between the two or three proposals.
As a consequence of this system, if you sometimes acquire or improve skills without paying attention to them during the adventure, it is also quite possible to lose them, if not by using items for this sole purpose and, above all, by fighting monsters in loop until the luck will not be on our side. It would have been much more interesting if this improvement was gradual and not random, i.e. a skill was unlocked by facing a monster five times, then improved to level two by killing it five more times, etc.
In short, the concept is nice and it is the biggest strength of the game, but its execution is imperfect, which is a shame.
And it starts again
It is necessary to remember a defect 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 rise at the end of the fight). However, since the bestiary is very limited, these random encounters give the title a terribly monotonous aspect: the player spends his time doing the same actions over and over again, until he can no longer do it.
In The Isle Dragon Roar, there was one flaw among others. Here, it is precisely the main problem of the game: the latter has a terribly slow and monotonous mid-game, which almost managed to distract me from the title. Too bad, because the narration is of good quality: it is not very original, but it does not hesitate to tackle very obscure issues and the English dubbing makes it its merit. Likewise, the combat system is actually quite rich, but this omnipresence of random combat, which all look the same and only have one optimal response, serves it completely.
What ? Should I stop repeating my previous test content? Maybe, but it’s a good example of Voice of Cards recycling, whose bestiary is very similar and, above all, suffers from random combat. The Beasts of Burden does not escape this trap, albeit less serious and more serious in this new work. Less serious because the skill system gives interest to these fights (allowing you to recover the skills of the defeated monsters) and forces you to vary your way of playing during the adventure. More serious because the game offers several dungeons where movement is not free, which increases the number of random fights.
The consequence of all this is that for this third opus I sometimes went against one of the first tips of the game: during some phases I cut the sound – the title however relies a lot on its soundtrack and its dubbing – so listen podcasts during playback. Fatigue was marked for me to get to this extreme.
However, it is clear that the narrative here is better controlled, particularly because the story is shorter (between 12 and 15 hours or so, a similar duration to that of the first game and much shorter than the second). Random fights are therefore less creepy as they are limited to fairly short stages of the story.
Plus, the latter is still as enjoyable as ever. After a first opus focusing on a dragon terrorizing the region and a second on introducing priestesses who must save their island, this third game focuses on the relationship between humans and the often hostile monsters that surround them. The writers have a real gift for creating intriguing settings and very charismatic characters, although I must admit that in the tenth location which looks super cool, but actually hides a heavy secret, the formula tends to work. a bit less well with me.
Let us recall in passing that another of my recurring criticisms, the fact that the English and French names of the characters are not the same, creating a discrepancy between the dubbing and the subtitles, is still present. Finally, I accidentally discovered from the menus that it was possible to speed up the game a bit, which is a very welcome 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 terminated and therefore ready for its 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 Ancient scrollsetc.) it still takes a lot longer for this.
In contrast, Voice of Cards’ first 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 series total to three. Each offers an independent story, which affects 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 the three games. With releases so close, isn’t there a risk of getting tired of this formula?
Personally … no. Of course, I always swear against these surprise releases, which upset my schedule. Of course, in my first test I praised the originality of the proposal, but this originality is necessarily less and less as it is cloned. Of course, every time I rely on some game flaws that haven’t been fixed yet. However, none of this is conclusive.
The Isle Dragon Roar, The Forsaken Maiden and The Beasts of Burden are three beautiful stories, which are not redundant; this is the main thing. The basic formula is similar, but it works well and, more importantly, is adapted every time to stay true to the plot. Also, I have fun every time and can only recommend each game, even if the latter is the one I have had the most difficulty with.
Tested on PC by Alandring from a version provided by the publisher.