Soul Nomad & the World Eaters - PS2 - Preview
All was well in this fictitious land until our hero, Revya, was entrusted with the power of a special sword. It’s the same old story until we find out why the sword is special: it has a holy terror trapped inside of it. He’s a cursing, sarcastic, wholly obnoxious rodent that should’ve been squashed several decades ago.
But for reasons unknown, he couldn’t be killed, only contained within a sword that must be passed onto to our hero, who is also deemed “special.” Though Revya may be capable of containing the evil that’s held within the sword, he is also forced to use it in order to fight the evil that exists around him. The more the sword is used, the more power its inhabitant gains. This vicious circle paints the story of Soul Nomad and the World Eaters, a new strategy/RPG from NIS America.
While the character interactions are intriguing (and sometimes amusing, though nowhere near the laugh-out-loud hilarity of Disgaea 2), the soul of Soul Nomad is its battle system. NIS has a specific way of developing strategy/RPGs, so you’re going to notice certain traits shine through in all of their games. But this one is a different take on the sub-genre, merging graphical elements of traditional non-strategic RPGs with the grid-based movement and strategic combat that strategy fans have been craving.
Most strikingly, when you attack an opponent for the first time, the game switches from the grid-based battle environment to a two-dimensional, side-by-side attack arena. The arena is strictly for the presentation of how characters attack, but that’s not nearly as surprising as the number of units held within each unit. Strategy/RPGs normally provide a handful of combatants to command, and each is controlled individually. In Soul Nomad, you start out with just one combatant – Revya. However, he is placed within a fighting area called a “room.” A minimum of four fighters may be placed within each room. Thus, when you attack an enemy, the strike will lead with a minimum of four hits (or four moves, if you chose to include a healer in your room, who will replenish HP automatically before every attack).
Think of rooms as being individual parties, the kind you’d get in a traditional RPG. But since this is a strategy/RPG, additional parties (rooms) may be summoned. New units (referred to as manikins) are for sale, while other, more powerful allies will be acquired throughout the course of the journey.
A glimpse of Soul Nomad’s room selection.
The story is told through text and voice-overs (both are used simultaneously), with most of the voices matching the characters fairly well. Revya is joined by his best friend, Danette, a young woman that could be a love interest. You just know that someone’s gotta take the job – why not her? The evil that lies within your sword is referred to as Gig, an angry, thinks-he’s-all-powerful being that doesn’t like taking no for an answer. He doesn’t always have a choice – with Revya conscious, he is still the commander of his own body. But Gig’s personality can and does come through Revya, and that leads to dialogue that’ll either have you hating Gig or laughing at him.
Town exploration, a key part of traditional RPGs that is usually ignored by strategy games, has been implemented as a way of conversing with additional characters. You won’t explore a physical area that looks like a town or be able to enter a building – this part of the game is based on menu clicks (see an area, select it, read what the character has to say and move on). But you will gain further insight into the game’s characters and have the occasional opportunity to obtain new items.
Soul Nomad has two types of items: Decor and Gig Edicts. Decor items are applied to a room and may enhance your party’s attributes for one battle. If you apply a 20% HP upgrade, your party’s health limit will rise 20%. But the item disappears as soon as the battle ends. Gig Edicts are single-use items with a twist: while one particular item may heal a character’s HP outside of battle, it may offer a special effect in combat, and may lead to even greater things if used during a conversation. The game doesn’t alert the player of any such effects, noting that you’ll learn more through experimentation.
The numbers in this shot are being replaced by character faces to show the order of each turn.
Crashing the new school year in late September, Soul Nomad and the World Eaters is set to devour the world of any strategy/RPG enthusiast. Stay tuned to GameZone as we bring you more on this game in the coming weeks.