Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time review
A must play game for all Strategy JRPG fans
Unique battle system
Great relationship system
Choices actually matter and have consequences
Slow beginning / mandatory tutorial battles
Infrequent Save points in some areas
Growlanser is a RPG series that newcomers might dismiss as "just another JRPG" if judging the game based on the cover art alone. However, the truth is Growlanser games has many features that set it apart from other JRPGs and Wayfarer of Time offers a really enjoyable and unique gaming experience. As the game begins you are introduced to characters that seem to conform to familiar JRPG tropes. But as the story unfolds, these tropes get turned on their head and plot twists lurk around every corner.
I do not wish to spoil the story so I will just say that it is good and full of political intrigue. While most JRPGs tend to be rather black and white when it comes to morals (the villains / monsters are evil, all of the protagonists allies are good), Growlanser breaks that convention by featuring many morally gray characters with questionable motives. Former allies may turn on you and former enemies may turn out to be allies. The story is also unusually mature for a JRPG; the game shows how bleak and terrible war can be without coming across as preachy or dogmatic.
The battle system of Growlanser series is truly unique- it is a mix of turn-based SRPG and real time strategy that makes for fun combat that moves at a faster pace than other "old school" / SRPGs. The best part about the major battles is that they feature mission objectives that challenge the player to do more than simply "kill all of the enemies"; for example, sometimes your objective is to prevent NPC civilians from being killed. You can still proceed after failing a mission but succeeding means your party members respect you more and results in additional rewards. This keeps the combat fresh and interesting.
The other aspect of this game that I love is the relationship system. Growlanser has the most sophisticated relationship / romance that I've ever seen in a RPG- there are many conversation options that will affect how a character views the protagonist. In addition, decisions you make and how you perform in battle all affect how other characters view you. All major characters have their own ending that you can unlock by befriending / romancing them and completing his or her sidequests.
The only truly notable flaw is that the first couple hours move slowly as it is mainly set-up / introducing the player to the battle system (but this can be said of most RPGs).
The graphics may seem dated to some but I'm a fan of classic 2D RPGs so I certainly didn't mind this. The beautiful character art by Satoshi Urushihara makes up for the dated graphics though. Frankly, the gameplay is so good, I'd still love this game if they used stick figures.
Occasionally missions can be tricky when what must be done to complete it is not made obvious. There are a couple battles where you more or less stumble upon the solution, while the game provides little or no clues about what must be done. But for such a large game this is forgiveable. There are some areas where I wish they had more frequent save points.
All in all, every one who considers themselves a fan of RPGs, especially JRPGs should give this game a shot! If you are generally not a fan of anime art style do not let that deter you from getting the game.
About the author
- Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time Online Purchase Guide 21
- Games similar to Growlanser 10
- Wayfarer of Time comes to EU PSN 0
- Game Breakers of the Game 14
- Growlanser Art Book coming to North America in 2013! 1
- Melinee/meyline? 2
- Vita Compatibility 5
- Who is your Familiar? (spoilers) 4
- Growlanser's Neoseeker series page 289
- Ultimate Ring? 0
- Neoseeker reviews Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time 0
- Introduction Thread 31