Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel

  • Released on Mar 15, 2011
  • By Gust for PS3

Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel review
Aren't these girls just a bit too young?


Well ladies and gentlemen, it seems as if Ar Tonelico is about to come to a close with a third game. Now, for the most part, 3 is a *bleep*en evil number. More often than not, the average trilogy ends on such a shit note that you're better off pretending that they don't exist. Sadly, I could almost say the same for this game! Ar Tonelico Qoga has a good story, a bad battle system, hit and miss quality graphics, mediocre voice acting, sweet soundtrack and some of the most awkward jokes you'll ever hear.

Seriously, I take back all the shit I gave to Bulletstorm regarding its sex jokes, becaust AT LEAST the timing was reasonable. Sure, that was every few seconds, but.. I don't know, there was something that at least makes Bulletstorm's jokes better than Ar Tonelico's... maybe it's the fact that Bulletstorm seemed more like the jock that always talked about dicks and implied that everybody else is gay while Ar Tonelico feels more like that socially awkward kid that tries so hard to be funny by just randomly telling jokes with no subtlety or thought about timing and delivery. Suffice it to say, I cringed every time it tried to be funny, and it hurt even more, knowing that the last two Ar Tonelico games were actually funny! Not to mention... the chicks look way too young to be into this kind of shit. The ones in the older games AT LEAST kind of looked old enough, but this lot? Are they even trying? *bleep* me...

Okay, I'll stop dwelling on that and just tell you guys what this is about. Basically, you're this guy named Aoto who is tasked with taking some chick named Saki to a special sort of doctor who can figure out why she lost her memory. But to make things interesting, there are people who chase you and want Saki for themselves. There is a fair bit more to the plot, but what it boils down to is “SAVE THE WORLD!!!”. Thankfully, it does balance between “humorous” and serious, even if the seriousness is a bit melodramatic here and there (and quite frankly, funnier than the jokes).

Unfortunately, actually playing the game is a bit of a problem. For one thing, the battle system is lame. Instead of being turn based, it's real time, sort of like the Star Ocean series, but whereas Star Ocean is fun, this isn't. The idea is to watch the meter at the bottom and press square at the right time to increase the size of the heart on the bottom right, and then when it says “purge”, you have to hold down one of the shoulder buttons and – don't laugh or go into fits of frustration – shake the controller... I mean... I thought SIXAXIS was obsolete! Seriously, couldn't they go about it in a different way? One that didn't use such an outdated method? Menus? Just holding a shoulder button? Don't bother with the whole purging thing and just flat out plagiarize Star Ocean? I don't know, but anything other than the *bleep*ing SIXAXIS!

Anyway, once you purge (that is to say... strip your Reyvateil... just roll with it), you can then press X and aim your super special awesome attack at a group of enemies... although it's a better idea to purge again by repeating the process, and then using said attack, because the more you purge, the stronger your attack will be. Now, if you want the battles to end in a reasonable amount of time, especially as you get further along the game, you must do this, because the fighters or “vanguards” alone do maybe shit all damage against most enemies, and it'd take too *bleep*ing long to finish the battle without the Reyvateil's special attack. It's like they played Star Ocean and went “man, this is good, but there needs to be more magic and the fighters need to be nerfed to hell and back – that'd be much better!!”. To put it simply, random encounters will feel a game of finding the hair strand in a stack of needles because the battle system sucks.

But there's a catch – on order to actually be able to purge, you must do a little thing called “Diving”. Basically what it is, is that you go to a Dive Shop in a town, and then choose which one of the two Reyvateils you want to “dive” inside. You then get plopped into a menu-looking screen known as a Cosmophere, with some options, and one or two have stars on them, which signify where you should go. The idea is to learn more about the Reyvateil you've dived inside, and that's what keeps it interesting... because you don't really do much else.

The graphics... make me feel a bit nostalgic. You remember how Final Fantasy 7 had 3D models on 2D looking environments? Yeah – so does this game. I WANT to believe that this looks stylish, but not really. The 2D environments (in this case, the towns) look pretty good with some rich colors, but the 3D models look like shit... they look like deformed bobblehead dolls. Maybe it's because of the poor contrast of 2D environments and 3D models? Yeah, feels like it.

The FMV scenes look nice, with the 3D actually looking good. The colors, shading and attention to detail while retaining an anime look is just awesome. There are a few anime scenes, but like Tales Of Symphonia, there just isn't enough, and to rub salt on the wound, a lot of scenes could've used the anime treatment instead of just having the models standing around doing nothing while we have some portraits of them speaking... sorry, maybe it's just that I don't like the visual novel style, but it always feels like they're too lazy to do real cutscenes when they do this...

As for the sound design, eh, it's pretty *bleep*ing sick, but sometimes, it's like they could've done more. A lot of it ends up being recycled towards the end, and while it's good for most tracks, some tracks.... ehhh, it just doesn't work, like when bad guys show up and you hear a bad guy song for the twenty trillionth time, especially for ones that pop up later. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a new and more ominous tune for later bad guys? But eh, the soundtrack is still pretty sick, so I have no huge beef with it. The voice acting is pretty hit and miss. They'll often get it right, but other times, it's like they're trying way too hard, which is what makes the serious moments feel more melodramatic, which ends up just screwing the atmosphere up worse than we ever could.

Gameplay: 1.5
A broke man's Star Ocean, except with an even crappier twist – your fighters are pussies and your spellcasters are overpowered to the nth degree!

Controls: 3.5
Shouldn't be hard to *bleep* up a JRPG's control scheme... so why am I using SIXAXIS!? Gimmicky at best.

Story: 4
There's actually a good amount of depth in the story which will keep you playing. Moreso in the diving sections where you get to learn more about the Reyvateil. This is what'll keep you playing.

Graphics: 3.5
3D models look like trash in-game, but during the FMV scenes, *bleep*, they look awesome. The 2D backdrops look nice as well, and the anime scenes, though very few in number, look fantastic!

Sound: 4
Although the soundtrack feels limited in scope, especially during certain moments, what you hear is definitely pretty sick. The voice acting is alright, but I'll be damned if they're thinking of being taken seriously with their overacting.

Lastability: 3.5
The game itself is reasonably lengthy, and there are multiple endings depending on how far into a Reyvateil's Cosmophere and other such decisions. If you're willing to tolerate a crap battle system, it's worth it. There are trophies, but you'd need a lot of patience for this platinum.

Funfactor: 1
Well, I suppose it's fun listening to melodramatic performances and at first, the battle system really isn't bad. Eventually, battling gets tedious and that's what winds up destroying the game.

Bottom line:
Ar Tonelico Qoga: Knell Of Ar Ciel feels like LA Noire, in that it gets story and presentation right for the most part, but once you play the game, it just gives you a big middle finger. Like with LA Noire, I must give it a harsh rating only because it fails in the game department – as a game, you're only really as strong as your gameplay. Having a great story and atmosphere is nice and all that, but if the gameplay sucks, then the game sucks as a result. I'm not paying $80 for an interactive anime series; I'm paying for a *bleep*ing game!


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