Hades is a dark place stricken by a painful, environmental condition called Ashen Rain. The inhabitants of this world are stricken with fear the moment the skies darken. Claude, a young alchemist, braves the dangerous rain to find a cure for his ailing sister, Yuri. Cursed with a glowing Butterfly on her neck, Yuri struggles to maintain her strength while consuming the only thing capable of subduing her pain - a medicine that contains a rare ingredient called ‘snowdrops’.
As they arrive in a small town, Claude and Yuri are approached by a guard after he hears of strangers acting suspicious. After a skirmish with the local guards, Claude and his sister encounter an old man named Phineas. The plot quickly deepens when they discover that the old man is actually the leader of a sadistic cult. To make matters worse, Phineas discovers Yuri’s butterfly mark and believes she is a goddess sent to lead his people. Things couldn’t get any worse.
Generation of Chaos:Pandora’s Reflection is a strategy-based role-playing game that resembles an interactive story book. It uses high-quality hand drawn illustrations and top-notch voice acting to convey its story. Most of the game is spent battling enemies on an overhead 2D map, while collecting Experience and Alchemy points to enhance your characters (more on this in a moment).
As the story unfolds, Claude and his sister meet various allies who join their party. The stories involving these allies are brief and add little, if anything, to the story. They seem to only serve one purpose – to increase your numbers during combat.
As mentioned earlier, combat occurs on a 2D overhead map with two different starting positions – one for your group and the second for your enemies. The battlefield changes based on your location. If you happen to be fighting inside a town, buildings and other obstacles are present to slowdown your units as they traverse the landscape.
Your team’s starting point on the battle map is designated by a circular blue base. Party members can be deployed by highlighting the base location with the cursor and pressing the X button. By doing this, a menu system appears showing the available units in your party. From this menu, you can also change your units’ equipment by pressing the Triangle button. Once a unit is selected, the player must highlight it on the battle map and press the X button.
By moving the on-screen cursor, a travel line appears showing the distance your unit can travel. To move your unit, you must ‘stretch’ the line to the desired location on the map and then press the X button. Your unit will then begin moving. The same process is repeated when engaging an enemy, but you must click on the enemy unit instead of the map terrain.
Oddly enough, your units can walk over buildings, barriers and other debris, but these obstacles hamper their movement speed tremendously. Enemy units are also affected by this too.
Each battle has a set number of conditions that vary from defeating your enemies to capturing outposts, but only one condition must be completed to win the battle. Sometimes choosing the least risky of the available conditions is easier than battling a large group of enemies.
The combat system relies on Bases, Unit Points, Strategy Points and Event Points. If the enemy’s Base is taken then the battle ends. Smaller Unit Points can be ceased to dispatch an additional unit. If an enemy Unit Point is destroyed, one less unit can be dispatched.
Strategy Points are areas of constant struggle. These locations become additional bases and one additional unit can be deployed from it. Your enemy can also capture these points from you. It is also possible to cease captured Strategy Points to change the course of the battle.
Event Points represent small houses. Some are already present on the battlefield, while others will appear when you approach them. These Event Points trigger a conversation with an NPC if you can reach them during battle. While it’s completely random, the NPC you speak to will give items that will sometimes assist you in battle.
Combat is initiated when two characters collide on the battlefield. When this happens, you can select a weapon from your unit’s arsenal. Depending on the unit, the selection can include magic, broadswords, daggers, etc. The weapon system works like a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. It will indicate which weapon is more effective against certain enemies.
The amount of damage dealt, and the kickback distance (how far the enemy is pushed back on the battlefield after combat ends) is determined by whoever has an advantage. To get an advantage, you must time your attacks corretly.
Once the desired weapon is chosen, a versus-style screen displays the battle as it unfolds. An attack mark (indicative of a line) appears on-screen and fills a gauge that then overlaps what are called ‘Impact Circles’. Pressing the X button the moment one of these ‘Impact Circles’ fill will result in a successful attack. The better you time your button presses the stronger your attacks will be.
The combat scenario uses beautiful character illustrations that react when they attack or take damage. While some role-playing games use a complex combat system, GoC: PR keeps it simple by using a clean interface that places your unit’s HP at the top of the screen.
Once the fight ends, a red circle expands over a small area of the map. Any additional units within the circumference of this area can initiate a ‘Chaos Attack’ and finish off the current enemy unit. This attack deals a tremendous amount of damage and the enemy unit cannot retaliate. This attack can be executed by pressing the corresponding on-screen button, but you are given a limited amount of time to execute it.
Characters receive experience points after winning a battle. Some units can be awarded MVP for the number of enemies defeated. Alchemy Points are given based on the number of units destroyed, how many points were captured, and how many ally units survived. Alchemy points can also be used to level your characters, heal them between battles, or improve armor and weapons. Basically, Alchemy points act similar to experience points, but they serve more than one purpose.
Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection is a relatively short game. There’s about 15 hours of actual gameplay before reaching the final boss, but luckily there is enough grinding involved to keep gamers busy. It’s also not possible to replay earlier battles; you can only play the most recent battle that you have won. With these gripes aside, GoC: PR is a solid role-playing game for PSP. While its gameplay may seem more suited for role-playing novices, there is a certain charm to its play mechanics that will keep gamers of all skill levels hooked until the end.
The fledging PSP handheld continues to thrive thanks to developers like Idea Factory. If games like Generation of Chaos:Pandora’s Reflection continue to appear on the platform, gamers everywhere will continue to have a reason to keep their PSP systems.
Platform: PSP (Available on PSN)
Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB: T (Teen)
|Spectacular hand drawn character illustrations|
|High quality voice acting and a great soundtrack.|
|Simple to learn, but hard to master.|
|Generation of Chaos isn't perfect, but it's worth adding to your library of games|