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The overall effect feels very similar to Monstar Hunter, although the selection of Offerings available at the start are much more interesting than Monster Hunter’s initial selection of weapons and moves. The enemies, too, are bigger, more aggressive and more nightmarish. In that respect it's more like Dragon’s Dogma or Dark Souls.
You’re joined in battle by Sortiara for the first chapter, then later by allies who fight with you. This is where the four-player multiplayer co-op comes in, which we admit we haven’t been able to try yet. Assuming it’s lag-free, it could well be a reason to get together with fellow Vita owners.
The offerings can be blended with each other to create new moves and any doubled-up offerings in your inventory can be combined to add extra uses or effects.
We don’t know how deep the system goes yet, but we like the way you get a warning in-battle before an Offering gets worn out. Use it too much and it’ll break. Save a little of each and it’ll be recharged for the next Phantom Quest.
You can buy back depleted offerings, thanks to a bizarre mechanic that involves moisture that forms around Librom’s eyes. These drops (not tears – he stresses that) are called Lacrima and re-form every couple of levels, so you should check the front of the book regularly.
You might have heard in our earlier coverage that you will be able to sacrifice parts of your own body in exchange for more powerful moves. It’s true – you can. These moves are called Black Rites. The first is called ‘Infernus’ and sees you sacrificing your own skin to gain the power of flame.
This means you get a huge fiery demon to summon when you’re near death, but it also means you’ll have your defensive stats halved. You can use Lacrima to undo these ‘blights’, but the cost of doing so goes up each time. So while you can choose to be incredibly powerful, you’ll pay an increasingly high price if you do.
The game runs beautifully, with massive enemies even in the first chapter and some gorgeous graphical effects. Voice acting quality is high, the story is engrossing, and even just the first couple of hours of gameplay are enjoyable despite the fact you’re learning a rather complex system. Instead of being laborious, it’s actually enthralling.
There’s a demo appearing on PSN this week (should be out now in most areas) and we highly recommend you check it out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read some more of Librom’s pages before Magusar comes back and kicks my ass.