Dungeon-crawling role playing games come with certain expectations. You know you’re going to head into a labyrinth, most likely seeing everything from a first-person perspective. There’s a good chance you’ll have to make your own characters, which means plenty of trial and error when determining strategies. Also, odds are plenty of static images await. Well, Ray Gigant does something different.
A DRPG from Experience, a company that should know what it’s doing with the genre after Stranger of Sword City, Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy and Demon Gaze, Ray Gigant actually does quite a bit of defying the odds. When you go in, you pretty much have to erase any expectations. It offers a smoother, more streamlined experience than the developer’s other dungeon crawlers.
To start, you have a predetermined party of three characters to take into each battle. Each one has a different view of the field and sort of weapon. When you decide to attack, the only options available to you are attack, guard and wait. Attacking attacks, guarding defends and waiting restores action points. There are no elemental properties to be concerned with, as the only thing that matters is whether an opponent is grounded or not. If they’re airborne, you switch to a character that has a projectile or magic attack to hit it. Rarely, you’ll get an opportunity to enter Slash Beat Mode in battle, pressing buttons in time with the music to execute a larger scale attack.
Health isn’t much of an issue either. Instead of your characters taking the hits, their Yorigami or Kurogami weapons absorb the damage. You can still be knocked out, but this means that hit points are restored after each fight you win. This puts greater importance on accumulating action points, the currency needed to perform attacks or guard in battle. Even that isn’t too limiting, as making a character wait and some enemy actions can restore AP. Also, returning to base at any time is always an option when the odds are against you. The battle systems streamline the experience.
Ray Gigant‘s exploration offers a smoother experience as well. While you don’t have the full map handed to you when you head into a dungeon, the entrance, goal, enemies and other points of interest are all highlighted. That’s right; there are no random battles. All Gigants are represented on the map by colored icons indicating their strength. As an example, yellow are ordinary encounters, blue are low level creatures and red ones can be pretty dangerous. The more hazardous the fight, the more AP is expended on each action in battle. With that information, it’s relatively easy to figure out paths to and from each point.
But Ray Gigant is at its smoothest when it comes to character designs. There are no static images here. While all allies and enemies are 2D figures, each one is animated and constantly moving. The movements are natural, too. You see your party members’ backs in a battle, stretching and eager get things done. Opponents are all jittery, itching to attack. Things seem more alive.
Ray Gigant does a lot to distinguish itself from its contemporaries. It takes the mechanics of a DRPG, tweaks them and sends the altered concepts out to see what works. We’ll determine how well that pans out for the product in our review next week. Ray Gigant will come to the PlayStation Vita on May 3, 2016.