Published on July 17th, 2012 | by Davis Fan0
[Game Review] Gungnir (PSP)
Summary: Gungnir offers one of the most interesting and new gameplay systems in any strategy RPG on the market today, giving even hardcore strategy RPG gamers something to talk about. Though the title has no Vita compatibility, which would mean players will have to carry an extra portable on their outings, it will be well worth it.
With the Vita out and outshining the original PSP in almost every way imaginable, it’s obvious that the previously powerful portable is on its way out. As with every outgoing Sony system before it, the PSP still has a few tricks up its sleeves and shines with games that are gameplay, rather than graphically, centric. While already more than a year old in Japan, Gungnir finally hits American shores thanks to Atlus and it is one of the best S-RPG experiences gamers will be able to find for the dying portable.
Gungnir takes players to Gargandia, a country split between the elite Daltania and lower class Leonica. Though both are human by any players’ regards, there is an intrinsic prejudice towards the Leonica that comes through. To fight back, Leonica protagonist Julio leads the group Esperanza in the fight against the elite. Though weak at first, the movement gains ground when Julio finds both Alyssa, a kidnapped Daltanian, and the powerful Gungnir lance.
The title is one of the better looking games on the PSP, filled with fully animated sprites and well drawn characters. However, aside from the game’s core characters, portraits are often repeated with the same palette swaps that all S-RPGs are notorious for. The juxtaposition of Japan’s trademark chibi style with the story and its serious undertones may seem odd, but it’s something that any fan of the culture will get and appreciate. Often, the story will even have players making important decisions, such as whether or not to execute a Dalanian leader, but these have little bearing over the course of the gameplay.
During battles, players will find time to be a key aspect to progression. At first, it may be confusing and feel urgent with the game’s unit of time, which doesn’t clearly divulge the amount of turns left due to its foreign wording, but players will soon find out that it’s actually rather lax and gives them more than enough time to complete their objectives.
Gungnir also offers a lot of freedom for players as to which characters to use and how often, though it have quite a learning curve to it. Rather than a simple turn based battle system, the game utilizes time once again. Every move takes up a certain amount of time, whether it is less because a character has only moved or more if they’ve taken upon more actions. Alternatively, players can still move a character before it recovers in exchange for health. It may seem unfavorable, but it’s definitely worth considering when the overwhelming enemy force is moving several units at once and any unfavorably positioned characters would mean big damage and likely death.
If they do run through levels more quickly, the next level will include treasure chests as a reward. However, any attempts to destroy the chests and claim their contents will undoubtedly be met with longer completion times and, in turn, no treasure chests the next level. In addition, some levels will feature crystals that can be harvested for minerals to enhance weapons, further adding weight to decisions of whether players want to speed through levels or maximize their loot.
Though there are many choices in how a level can be completed, the actual game progression is a mostly linear one, foregoing the choice to replay previous levels as other S-RPGs offer. Without any chances to replay levels and grind, players are encouraged to level up the proper characters and use strategy rather than brawn. Often, this can prove to be just as unforgiving to newer players as it is satisfying for the seasoned gamer.
With fewer and fewer PSP games coming out, it’s comforting to see a title that satisfies the niche gamers. Gungnir offers one of the most interesting and new gameplay systems in any strategy RPG on the market today, giving even hardcore strategy RPG gamers something to talk about. Though the title has no Vita compatibility, which would mean players will have to carry an extra portable on their outings, it will be well worth it.
Available on: PSP; Publisher: Atlus; Developer: Sting; Players: 1; Released: June 12, 2012; ESRB: Teen; MSRP: $29.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.