BLUE APPLES

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WRITINGS

Xenogears

Pros:

+ Excellent soundtrack
+ The incredible complexity of the plot, huge scale of the setting, mature themes and multiple philosophical/religious references make Xenogears' story possibly the greatest ever written for a videogame

Cons:

- Technically weak, even for its times
- Extremely rushed and incomplete 2nd CD that looks like a playable PowerPoint presentation

Rating: 9 (masterpiece)


Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia

Pros:

+ One of the most creative and interesting settings ever seen in its genre
+ Great character design
+ Great soundtrack
+ The combat system is really good, at least on paper
+ Well developed characters, especially the female ones

Cons:

- Very low production values
- Too easy
- The Cosmosphere sections are devoid of any actual gameplay
- Bland main character

Rating: 6/7 (acceptable/good)


Final Fantasy XII

Pros:

+ Huge locations and lot of exploration
+ The Gambit system is probably the best character management system ever devised

Cons:

- Very monotonous and repetitive dungeons
- Terribly monotonous and repetitive sidequests
- Very bland and monotonous combat system
- Incredibly weak story that feels like it was just added as an afterthought
- One of the most underdeveloped cast of characters ever seen in an rpg

Rating: 6 (acceptable)


Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica

Pros:

+ One of the most creative and interesting settings ever seen in its genre
+ Great character design
+ Great soundtrack
+ Great combat system
+ Well developed characters, especially the female ones

Cons:

- Very low production values
- The Cosmosphere sections are devoid of any actual gameplay
- Bland main character
- High number of cringeworthy scenes

Rating: 7/8 (good/very good)


Umineko no Naku Koro ni

Pros:

+ Great soundtrack
+ Extremely strong emotional power
+ Incredible depth of philophical and psychological themes
+ Possibly the most well-developed cast of characters in any piece of media ever, in both quality and quantity

Cons:

- Horrid drawings
- Inconsistent pacing, alternating highly adrenalinic moments between really boring ones
- The metanarrative component often goes a little overboard and is not always well explained

Rating: 9 (masterpiece)


Final Fantasy XIII

Pros:

+ Visually stunning on both technical and aesthetical level
+ Unconventional character writing focusing on showing credible human flaws rather than following the usual tropes

Cons:

- Exaggerately linear game structure almost devoid of any real exploration and/or interaction; most of the game feels like a literal hallway

Rating: 6 (acceptable)


Xenoblade Chronicles X

Pros:

+ By far one of the best open world experiences ever made: not only huge in size, but also full to the brim with places of interests and stuff to do, and with incredible freedom of exploration
+ The Dolls (mechas) feel incredibly good to drive and add ulterior depth to the exploration and combat

Cons:

- Excessively small writings
- The game mechanics are barely explained and require the player to go read the manual on his own
- Really unfitting soundtrack
- Bad combat system that, on top of being confusionary, plays more like a musical minigame than an actual combat system
- The story is barely present; most of the game is sidequest-driven

Rating: 7 (good)


Final Fantasy XV

Pros:

+ The general graphic level is outstanding, with incredible lighting, shadows and particle effects
+ A couple really gorgeous locations
+ Great monster designs
+ The combat is incredibly good... to look at
+ Incredibly good looking summons
+ Excellent battle music
+ The combat features some really good ideas, at least on paper
+ The interaction and bantering between the various party members is very well done and manages to make the trip much less boring than it could've been
+ Very comfy roadtrip feel
+ One of the most charismatic main villains in the series
+ Very powerful ending

Cons:

- A lot of really embarassing graphical falls
- Very bland opening
- Despite technically being open, the world is ridden with invisible walls and unexplorable areas
- Less than 3 cities to explore, plus a multitude of painfully repetitive military bases
- The one-button mechanic of attack makes for an excessively automatized and unintuitive combat system that doesn't make the player feel in actual control
- The utter unpredictability of the vast majority of enemies' moves makes the dodging mechanig almost entirely useless
- The schizophrenic targeting system can make the battles really confusing, especially against more enemies
- Incredibly poor magic system with no more than 3 magic elements
- For the entire first half of the game the story is barely there, and all the most important events happen off-screen
- For the entire second half, the game is completely linear with no exploration at all
- A lot of characters never get any development and/or purpose at all
- Blatantly incomplete story that doesn't manage to feel finished even after all the DLCs

Rating: 6 (acceptable)


Final Fantasy VII REMAKE

Pros:

+ Flawless adaptation of almost every element from the original
+ Great combat system, once you get used to it: fun but also strategic
+ All characters get much more development time compared to the original, even including the least important ones

Cons:

- Most of the game is basically a stretching of the original; there was no real reason to make a whole game set in Midgar
- Some elements of the combat system (like the targeting) still require some work
- The ending (and, more in general, everything related to the "Whispers of Fate") is a completely unnecessary and unfitting addition

Rating: 7/8 (good/great)

First published: 10/11/2020.

Last edit: 11/01/2021.