previews\ Aug 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Cladun: This is an RPG preview


Had enough punishment yet? NIS has kept the PSP stocked with RPGs and built a reputation as the go-to company for hardcore roleplaying, and I don’t mean LARPing. NIS doesn’t downplay the sadism of its games in order to tempt the masses. It cherishes the brutality, polishes it like a trophy, and holds it up for all to quake beneath. Don’t be fooled by the childish demeanor of Cladun: This is an RPG. Like and eight-year old with a switchblade and mean streak, Cladun is going to paint the walls with your entrails.

You choose one of ten characters to journey to Arcanus Cella for a little treasure-hunting, but which one you pick to begin matters little. Each character has a storyline, but more importantly, unique stats and gear that you will rely on for survival throughout your ordeal. Although Cladun is a single-character action-RPG (i.e. no party), everyone is connected through the Magic Circle. In one way or another, your level 50 Wizard is still going to need the help of the lowly, level 5 Merchant. With ten characters in need of leveling, perhaps you can see why NIS labels Cladun as a “grind-fest.”

Character-customization is far more complex than picking a premade character and jumping into a dungeon, or even using the editor to craft your own hero pixel by pixel. It is an ongoing process. You must assign your characters jobs, including a Wizard, Merchant, and Dragoon, to name a few, and you even get to choose a few characteristics for the final boss. When you place other characters and any of the 100 artifacts in your Magic Circle, your stats go up and you gain access to special abilities, such as superspeed or magic attacks. Additionally, characters in the Magic Circle will soak up damage on the battlefield, saving you from those pesky reloads.

Combat is of the standard hack-’n’-slash variety, with melee weapons, shields for blocking, and even sprints and jumps. It’s not enough to brandish the biggest weapon though. Players will have to learn to side-step and counterattack opponents with perfect timing, and in some instances, use the environment for an advantage. In the first dungeon I played, I was able to navigate all the fire traps fairly easily, but a nasty ice monster kept freezing me and pounding me senseless. Through a lucky mistake, I found that purposely setting myself on fire made me immune to the ice.

With 100 artifacts for the the Magic Circle, 2,000 pieces of gear to collect, and multiple characters to play as, Cladun: This is an RPG is sure to be an epic time-sink with a hefty dose of mystery. In a strange turn, you can leave Arcanus Cella at any time and end your journey, albeit to the tune of ‘bad’ ending, although I am told that the only way to access one character’s secret ‘good’ ending is by leaving early. Little twists like that hint at the level of depth and intrigue that Cladun has in store.

If the incredibly customizable characters and seemingly infinite combos aren’t enough to sate your hunger for grinding, a massive cavern of randomized dungeons awaits those players sturdy enough to see the main adventure through. It is rumored to be a million-level behemoth, but in the words of one localization producer, “There’s no way we’re testing a million dungeons, so we’re calling it an ‘infinite dungeon.’” For such a pint-sized game, Cladun: This is an RPG is looking to be a grand adventure of massive proportions.

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