Gungnir

gungnir_boxart
7.5 Overall Score

Great battle system and engaging main story

Short game length while leaving some side story arcs cut off

Written by on June 27, 2012 in [, , , , , , , ]


Gungnir
 is a strategy RPG from Atlus and developed by Sharp, the makers of Knights in the Nightmare.  It is a game that uses  a complex, but more or less easy to learn battle system, to tell a fantastic and engaging story.

Graphics-

As a PSP game, Gungnir has very playable and nifty graphics. The character models on the field make sense and you can easily, for the most part, tell the different classes apart from one another and you can also tell the unique characters from one another. The only thing is that enemy units look like friendly units, so you have to hover over a given unit to find out which team he or she is on.  The graphics are pretty with a nice aesthetic.  There are a few issues however with the battle field navigation. Sometimes, the camera moves so that you cannot see what is happening. This isn’t too much of an issue as the game is turn based and you can move the camera to see what and who you are going to attack, but sometimes the battle animation is hidden. Characters can get a little hidden behind structures making it hard to see who can move where.

Gameplay

Gungnir is all about story and battles.  There is no open world, no side quests, and most refreshingly, no grinding.  Tactics take precedent to levels and power, which is welcomed, since SRPGs are few and far between (new ones at least).  Between battles and story points, you can edit your army by adding are releasing members, equipping them freely and upgrading your weapons.  The menus can get a bit confusing and so can the weapon data.  yet the game does have that tutorial that should help clear up most questions.

Gugngir is indeed a strategy RPG, or SRPG. The battlefield is a traditional grid based field, with various levels and terrain. It is turn based with a little bit of a twist to other SRPGs and TRPGs that I have played. The gameplay for the game is very solid and very fun. It may take a while to get used to, but the game has a built-in tutorial and reference guide which you can check at any time. The game also give you a lot of built in warnings, so if you are accidentally targeting an ally, the game will warn you. If you want to move an ally too soon, the game will warn you of that. It is the kind of “hand-holding” that never feels restrictive. At the beginning of each fight, you pick an Ace which will give a cooldown bonus for specific units based on the Ace, and when the Ace dies, the match is over. Most of the time, the opponent will also have an Ace that you can target to quicken things up.

With each turn that passes, in-game time passes, and the day passes.  Each character has a timer for much time must can pass before they can move again. Yet the turns are not character specific.  This means that during your turn, you can move whoever you wish from whoever is ready to move again.  Therefore, if one member is going to do you no good, or you want to leave him or her in a defensive position, there is more freedom to do that. You can override the wait times, but at the cost of health. Sometimes, the tactical advantage you can gain will outweigh the health and vitality penalty. In my play through, I rarely had to push any troops like that, so I never had to worry much about those penalties, but some missions may have gone better if I had pushed them like that.  The combat system is designed to help the player plan strategy and utilize turns far more effectively.

Also, on the map there are various special spaces. The two that are on every map are retreat points and tactical points. When taken, tactical points give you, well, tactical points. This is where the strategy really comes into play. When you surround an opponent (or are surrounded) you can then choose to spend tactical points to either beat or boost. A beat will allow your teammates to do an attack after the active member attacks and, depending on the weapon used, will give that attacked unit an ailment. If you choose to perform a boost, your allies will boost the attacker, depending on the accessories used. To boost, your allies must be in line with the attacker, and to beat, your allies must be in line with the one you are attacking. Thus, I found some of the more effective moves were the ones that would cause knock back.  There is also a block/counter and dodge mechanic that was nice to see.  Front attacks were more likely to be blocked and then countered, if you had the right weapon, or miss.  Ranged attacks had sweet spots where they would have the most chance to hit.

The things about gameplay that do feel restrictive is that new characters added to your party feel weak and underpowered compared to troops you have in your party. Also, unique characters can become very underpowered. Although they will level up their weapon specialization and level rather quickly. Underleveled allies are usually a problem in these sorts of games, and there is no real way around them accept keeping your allies well equipped. The other is that the all powerful Gungnir that is given to Guilio is somewhat useless most of the time. It fills up his inventory too much to make it really useful, and with only one normal attack, and the fact that his super attacks hit at random on the field, I found myself wishing I didn’t use it as much as I did. The only saving grace for that is that you can switch both weapons and troops in and out of the field at the tactical points and retreat points respectively, thus giving you the option to switch in Gungnir for the final blow if need be.  The last issues are that you can only have about 15 people in your army, and on top of that, only 4-6, including your Ace, on the field.  You can switch members in and out of the field if they are badly wounded or are not working for your strategy, so that is a nice touch.  It forces you to think strategically about your your first moves and allows you to change tactics as you close in on victory.

Story

This is where the game shines. It follows the story of a poor group of people known as the Espada and followed their rebellion against the Gangan Empire. However, the son of the previous leader, who was killed during the last rebellion 15 years before the game starts, recieves the legendary spear called, you guessed it, Gungnir. For those who don’t know, Gungnir is the spear of Odin from Norse mythology. He is choses because he has the Stigmata, which is a marking on the chest. This confused me, because traditionaly, stigmata is when a person bears the wounds of Jesus, meaning holes in the hands and feet as would have resulted from the crucifixtion. However, Japan is notorious for morphing mythologies and religions to their own stories, so I guess I can’t be too critical. Anyway, so the story follows him and his army as they battle for their freedom from under the Empire.  The game deals with ethnic cleansing and racism between the Leonicians and Daltans.  The Daltan nobles have a superiority complex over the Leonicians, the ones who are behind the Esperanza Rebellion, yet the feeling is mutual and even the Leonicians have an apprehension for the Daltans and their race.  It really is an interesting concept to deal with and Sharp handles it well.  Throughout the game, Guilio and his army fight to beat the empire, with enough twists and turns to keep the game interesting. I am not going to lie, there are some parts that don’t really ever come to a full conclusion. Some things sort of happen, and characters will enter the story and there will be a short explanation and then they never really develop the character. The characters that lack the development are not that important to the main story, but still, they sort of just end their arch right before the game ends. It all makes sense, and I didn’t see too many plot holes. A lot in the game is taken for granted, and the main game ‘twist’ that you would expect in a game like this never really happens.

The main story line does come to full circle. Not only is the main story solid and moving, but there are multiple endings. Throughout the game, you will have choices to make, which will in turn affect the outcome, and give different endings. And the ending I got did not disappoint. There is an “after-credits” scene that sort of wrapped things up more so and helped make the story more complete, and considering what happened, the ending made sense and worked over all. On top of that, the game is reletivly short at around 20 hours or so with the option of a New Game+ so that multiple play-throughs are somewhat expected. I have already started my second run and am seeing a few changes with the story already. Nothing major yet, but I would like to see how my actions can affect the world.

Summary

All in all, Gungnir is a great title and a fun game. It is a solid SRPG that will make you think strategically and pay attention to how you play. While there are a couple “camera-angle” issues, it is nothing to hurt gameplay too much. The only shortcoming is really that a few story points are wrapped up too neatly and a couple are left open. It almost makes me wonder if Sharp want to make Gungnir 2.  If you have a PSP and want a solid SRPG with a great main story and even multiple endings, than that is exactly what Gungnir will give you. A solid game and one that I would highly recommend.

SHARE THIS POST

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Evan J Stark View all posts by

One Comment on "Gungnir"

  1. tanto June 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    The game is at least a 8

Leave A Response