Lightning Warrior Raidy II: ~Temple of Desire~ review
Shockingly Decent Sequel
The majority of adult themed games that hit the market tend to bury themselves firmly in the visual novel genre. Some do tend to cross the threshold into more mainstream areas, and Zyx is one such company that have attempted to do so. Their original Lightning Warrior Raidy game, while an interesting attempt at an adult RPG, suffered in several areas, including a rather steep difficulty curve and monotonous design. Still, they've come back with a second game promising to be bigger, better and sexier.
I'm a bit mixed about the visuals of the game. From a technical viewpoint (and that of someone who skipped the first game) the game does look very nice. The artwork used to depict various characters looks fantastic and there is a wide variety of "monster" designs on use to appeal to a great number of tastes. Environment designs are slightly better than before. There is still an unfortunate low number of different textures in use, but at least now it doesn't quite feel like almost the entire game runs off one tile set.
The problem for me is that it a bit too much familiar territory here. Granted it is not uncommon for sequels to reuse certain graphic elements from older games, but with LWR's static battle artwork it just makes it far too obvious and disappointing when you see the exact same wererat you happily slashed apart in the first game. At the very least making slight changes to their appearances would have helped.
CG scenes have seen a welcome boost. The obvious bonus is that there is now far more content than before, and it's pretty obvious that Zyx have taken great care with them. What strikes me as awesome is that some of these do have animation. Mainstream gamers may scoff at this, but adult games rarely fully animate things outside of screen distortions and effect overlays. It's done pretty well too and boosts the effectiveness of them.
Unfortunately, animation is more limited elsewhere. Aforementioned screen distortions and effect overlays are in full force during battles and certain events, and while these are done fairly well it still isn't the best substitute in place of seeing the enemies move, which would have been nice.
Audio has seen some welcome change to things. Music now tries to vary itself more, and with the different dungeon themes and moving between events and town you will no longer be completely driven to insanity by it. It is still small in comparison to other games but now I can enjoy the music as I trek through dungeons. The OP song is also pretty epic, which is a cool bonus.
Voicework is still pretty good, even though Raidy hasn't outgrown her embarrassed schoolgirl voice. Others tend to outclass her by fitting the roles better, like Jami as the head of the bandits has a suitably sly sounding voice to her. What does irk me is that not all dialogue is voiced but only parts, which is very strange.
Story in the game is fairly good, even if some of the explanations do stretch things quite a bit. After defeating Cubust in the first game she has been wandering the continent trying to uncover the truth behind her lightning powers. Her journey leads her to the peaceful town of Lake Blue... or at least it appears peaceful until Raidy discovers that bandits have been kidnapping the locals and selling them off as slaves. Unable to ignore their plight Raidy leaps into action.
There's more to it than that but best not to spoil it. As paper thin as it is, there is something about witnessing Raidy's single track heroism that is good to see, especially when you don't take it seriously. Even so, it would have been nice to not have a central plot point so easily discarded. Suffice to say that the history behind Raidy's powers are literally fully explained in a single throwaway event halfway through the game.
The gameplay's core mechanics are mostly the same as before, but for the newcomers I'll go over it. When in levels Raidy explores locations in a first person perspective. The aim is to locate the boss chamber and beat the crap out of her, and many bosses also throw in the extra objective of discovering the secret to beating them. The game pitches in some RPG staples like locked doors and quest items too.
There are some interesting floors that present some cool features. One will spin Raidy around 180 when she walks into set spots, which can be confusing if you're not paying attention to the map. Then there are fake walls that only look like dead ends but conceal hidden paths and rooms. Only special element I don't like are the returning warp panels that can happily send you back to the beginning of a floor and force you to walk all the way back to where you were. Though the depth naturally never reaches the same standards of more mainstream RPGs it is still a nice incentive to trek around.
The map has received a slight change. You no longer have to find a map in the level to show that floor's map. Instead the map automatically builds up as Raidy walks around. This is a welcome improvement as you no longer need to try and locate an item that could be the other end of the floor, although it does mean that you need to cover 100% of each floor to fully flesh out the map.
Things like treasure chests are still invisible until you walk into them, which feels a little lazy to me. Still, at least having all those chests is nice and encourages exploration in the hope of grabbing some nice loot.
The biggest change here is that Raidy is no longer locked in a tower. There are several dungeons to explore of varying lengths and an actual overworld map is included. From here you can rest at the inn, which is a vast improvement from relying completely on potions for healing. The tavern is there for information gathering, though its uses outside of plot relevant progression is limited.
LWR2 also brings in a shop system. There is a weapons shop and and item shop in Lake Blue (and a couple of others... elsewhere) where you can purchase more useful equipment and stock up on healing items. This means that monsters no longer drop random items but gold instead. Unlike many RPGs of late I find the money system in here to fare better, whereby the "money is no object" stigma only really comes into effect nearer the end of the game.
Consumable items have only seen one change, with an item that warps you back to town no matter where you are in a dungeon, which is a very nice thing to have on you. Equipping Raidy has undergone a slight change too. Now you can equip a sword and/or shield in both left and right hands, as well as getting armour and an accessory. From what I saw, there didn't seem to be any noticeable offence benefit from dual wielding swords and dual wielding shields seems rather pointless so this aspect seems more like a novelty than anything. Still, it is good to have more options available. You can still find equipment in the treasure chests too, so it isn't all relegated to the shops.
Combat is mostly the same as before. Most encounters are of the random variety where monster girls will jump out at you at any point when exploring the levels. Battles are done in a turn based format where the enemy girl and Raidy takes turns executing actions. The basic attack will be the most used command, allowing a free regular attack that can be randomly dodged or blocked (which goes for both sides). Items can be used in battle for things like healing. Defend is still a pointless ability which does nothing more than grant free turns to the other side. Run lets you escape from battles but may fail if the enemy is stronger than you.
The thunder blade special technique is still here in a form, but has been tweaked. The command no longer automatically consumes half your MP for a single attack. Instead when you use the command you can either charge up energy for 10 MP or unleash all the stored energy in an attack. As you progress in the game you can unlock a couple of other unleashes, but they don't bring anything different really. The change means you no longer have an instant high power attack, causing you to bear the brunt of boss attacks for longer, but it does make the attack a more feasible option for dispatching with some of the harder grunt enemies and the expanded list is worth it too even if it is just for extra power.
Enemies can bring in special attacks too. Early on these tend to be limited to either nothing or stealing gold off you (which can be horribly irritating at times). Later on they can drain your magic or hit with rather powerful attacks, making you choose whether you should fight for the experience or run for your life.
One aspect that does annoy is that enemies always act before Raidy. Always. You can be so ridiculously higher levelled that they cause scratch damage and they'll still act before you. There's also nothing resembling intelligence as well so you end up mowing down a bunch of dimwits. Even bosses just random attack or defend until you've beaten them.
Which brings us onto the difficulty. While improved. this game seems to have gone off the opposite end. The first game was brutally difficulty and prone to spikes. This game starts off quite hard, then the difficulty completely drops to dead easy a few floors in and then levels back up to decent at halfway for the rest of the game. At least this makes the game beatable without tearing clumps of hair out but balance issues could still be ironed out.
In terms of length you shouldn't expect normal RPG lengths. There's only a few dungeons around and interactions in the overworld are limited to clicking on the things like the inn to visit them. There are a few optional events for you to trigger though and there is still a decent amount to get done.
I must admit that I do like the way Raidy 2 handles the sexual content, even if Raidy's reasons for doing some of these are really silly. Like the first game, this one loves to revel in dirty pleasures and it manages to go to an even bigger extreme. Think of a fetish and chances are this game has at least one event to cover it. This does mean that some events did have the result of grossing me out (without going into details, the win and defeat events of the dungeon eighth floor felt really wrong to me). Those few very rare instances aside I think it was well done, as well as the trait of rewarding the player with events both for defeating a boss and getting defeated.
What you get out of this game depends on what you're expecting. If you're looking for the next Final Fantasy standard then boy did you take a wrong turn somewhere. If you're looking for a decent game with adult content then this is a nice option to go for. Just don't expect the massive depth you'd get with a more mainstream title.
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