Summon Night 6: Lost Borders Review – Visually Tactical (PS4/Vita)
Summon Night 6: Lost Borders is an interesting game, a Strategy RPG with heavy element of visual novel, where you are sure of plenty of grid-based battles, with lengthy screen time from your character’s portraits. Publisher Gaijinworks really brought out all the stops with a lengthy localization, full of a lot of dialogue. It was a risk to be sure, with so little of the series having been localized before this. Read on to find out how this adventure went.
Summon Night 6 drops players into the world of Fullujah, where miscellaneous items have been falling from the sky, but now people have started to fall as well, confused as to where they have ended up. These characters are greeted at different chapters of the story by Raj and Amu, who couldn’t be anymore different. Raj is your typical, happy-go-lucky guy who gets overly excited about every little new thing that happens. Amu keeps to herself a bit more, assuming all these random people showing up is more of an annoyance. All of these characters that have fallen are from past entries in the Summon Night series, which can be confusing for those like me who have never played a game in the series, but it never really stopped my enjoyment of the story. Sure, I had times where I felt like I had genuinely missed something, but the story does a great job of not making you feel lost in the grand scheme of things. Later on in the game, you can unlock back stories for the characters, should you want to learn more about their histories.
With all the overlapping characters and story lines, plus all the added side conversations and night time scenes, it’s no wonder that this took so long to localize. There is a lot of text in this game, which at times can be a little bit too much, and I will admit, I did skip and scene or two of side stories. I know it’s a visual novel, so there is going to be a lot of text. It just felt like at times the characters had way too much to say without really saying anything new. Thankfully, the story itself is good enough to keep you interested and the game has some really likable characters and genuinely funny moments. The night time scenes I mentioned above become very important, as building up your affinity level with various characters can unlock various different endings.
Brisk and Tactical
When you aren’t reading text in the Summon Night 6, you will most likely be duking it out somewhere and this aspect really shines. The combat is your typical grid based strategy-RPG, with 8 playable characters on the field at a given time, with the ability to switch out characters at a given time with someone in your reserve. There are a lot of systems here in the combat to enjoy, from summon arts and bursts. Almost all of these can be down alone, though the game heavily emphasizes the need to stick together and cooperate, as you can do most things better as a group, such as more powerful summon attacks and coordinated attacks with nearby members. Granted, this only really applies on the hard difficulty. On easy or even medium, you can basically just power level Raj and another character to take out the entire field on any given battle.
The biggest thing you will want to know about combat is that the experience gained is shared at the end of the battle. This means that only the 8 characters that you end the battle with (don’t count the ones who die or are subbed out) will be allowed to use the EXP gained in the battle. Make sure to focus on the 8-10 characters that you feel make the best party and just keep leveling them up. Problem is, the game about midway through throws a ton of characters together in one time-line, causing you to maybe reorganize your top 10 characters. Then about 20 hours in it decides to jab you again an introduce even more characters. It’s a cool thing to find new things 15-20 hours in, but for someone who has really planned their party out, it can be a slight annoyance. Players will also gain Skill Points in battle as they defeat an enemy, which can then be used to improve and learn new skills. Also, make sure to check out the Brave Order before battles, as completing the side objectives in battle can net some cool rewards. Just make sure you check them out BEFORE the battle starts, because once it does, you better hope you remembered them.
A little bit of down time.
Outside of combat and your story, there are few side things to take part in. You can go fishing, you can cook, and strengthen your weapons and summons. The fishing adds a cool twist, as you can fish for your cooking ingredients. The mini-game to fish is simple and easy, but I did find myself fishing over and over to try to catch those elusive fish. About halfway through, you can also unlock missions to accept, which are a cool 3-man combat mode where your characters fight through rounds on their own, with you switching between characters and using special abilities. It’s something different and brings you a unique change to the combat. You also have the endless domain, where you engage in floor to floor battles. Summon Night 6 really does likes to introduce things throughout the entire game, as you hit 12, 15 hours in and are still learning about new combat mechanics, quicksand, missions, and more.
Visually, I was pleasantly surprised with Summon Night 6. Yes, it won’t blow you over, but that’s not a bad thing here. The character models are well done and the environments are colorful. Some of the battlefields could use just a bit more touch to them, but it’s not all that bad. There are not a lot of cutscenes, but the ones they do have look great and the voice work they do have is good, though no voice was really all that memorable for me.
Summon Night 6: Lost Borders really surprised me. I can honestly say I am not usually a fan of visual novels, but this one to me never felt like one. This is a colorful and fun VSRPG (I think that works!) with loads of enjoyable characters, an interesting story, and a fluid combat system. While the game might have a bit too much extra dialogue, the story itself is full of charm, doing a great job of keeping you engaged. The combat flows along at a brisk pace, never feeling like you are on the battle field for too long, but not feeling rushed either. The ability to carry your progress between PlayStation 4 and Vita is a welcome addition, with the game looking and playing great both across both platforms. Gaijinworks should be commended for a great job in localization, and Western gamers should hope that this series continues to make its way out of Japan.
Summon Night 6: Lost Borders review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4 and PS Vita. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.