When you see the name NIS America listed on the box art of your video game, you can be assured of a wacky cast of characters and solid gameplay mechanics. So when I found that NIS and Hit Maker would be developing Last Rebellion exclusively for the PS3, I was overjoyed to get my hands on the game. The guys at Nippon Ichi have stated that they plan to use more of what the PS3 has to offer, and they most likely will start doing that after Last Rebellion.
The story in Last Rebellion puts players in the role of Nine, a swordsman with incredible skill. You bear witness to your father’s death and almost die yourself before being saved by Aisha, a sealer who binds your two souls to one. This keeps you alive, but makes it so that only one character can be active at a time as you both try to track down the killer. The story is told through portraits that pop up on screen. It’s nothing new, and actually takes a step back, as the mouths of the portraits don’t move and rarely even change expression.
This game was not built with presentation in mind, as the characters and textures in the world look like an early PS2 game. The best-looking part of the game is actually the illustrations that show up during the loading screens. The game features no towns, no cutscenes, no equipment, and no side quests. It’s a straight up dungeon crawler with very little else to it. You move from area to area fighting everything in your path, and that’s where the game somewhat shines, the combat.
The combat is a bit complex and hard to fully grasp at first. To start, there are no random encounters–instead, you see the enemy on the screen, but you are rarely able to avoid confrontation. Once the battle starts, you select actions for each character. You have a two person party, with only one being active at any given time. This also means that both Nine and Aisha share the same hit points, mana and chain points. With this in mind, it takes a bit of strategy to choose your moves.
The battle system starts with the options of Attack and Stamp. You are able to select the body parts that you want to attack on enemies. Each body part that you select to attack costs you one chain point, and you can select body parts on multiple enemies to attack. Once selected, you are given the choice to select the attack for your second character, which should always be Stamp magic. Stamp magic is magic that damages the body parts that your other character is set to attack. Body parts must be attacked first with your sword before you can cast stamp magic.
When your character does attack, you will notice circles appear on screen with each attack. These circles will have a number such as X1, X2, X3 pop up with them. This number will tell you exactly how many turns the stamp on that body part will last before you will have to place it again. Another part of the attack and stamp is that while selecting the various body parts to attack, you are also trying to guess the correct order to attack these parts in that will deal the most damage. It’s a bit of a guessing game, but when you do guess the correct order, you will see a BINGO appear on screen during that attack. If you string together enough correct guesses, or BINGOs, you will receive a combo, which gives you bonus points for EXP and new items.
It’s a bit difficult to get the hang of, but after a few battles, it will become second nature, and after the 50th battle, it will become tedious and boring. With only 2 characters in your party and with both of them using the same exact animations for each attack, this quickly becomes repetitive. Additionally, enemies must be sealed. When you bring an enemy to zero health in battle, you haven’t really killed him–you have only set him up to be sealed by Aisha. Doing this costs you one CP per enemy, so make sure you save enough for her to do this at the end of battle, otherwise the enemies will come back to life stronger than before.
The game also has a hard time giving you any insight into what to do or where to go. You wander from dungeon to dungeon, hoping to figure out what you’re supposed to do. Once you do find the place you are supposed to go, you find out that you haven’t learned a needed spell or skill, so you must backtrack and grind more to hopefully gain this skill. The problem with this is that after a while, the monsters stop giving any experience, so you must kill them but not seal them, letting them get stronger and boosting experience gained.
Another odd part of the game is the treasures found. Treasures use keys found during battles, but each chest requires a different number of keys to open it. The keys are a bit hard to come by, so if you happen to use 10 on a chest with a lame item, it can lead to a lot of frustration. While on the mini map, you will also notice that with Nine active, you will slowly gain MP and with Aisha active, HP. On your journey, you will need to find Sheets of Aria to level up your magic, which can be assigned at any time to either character, letting you customize each character’s skill set.
I initially had high hopes for this game because of my love for everything NIS, but sadly, this is a game that could have used a bit more time in development. For Hit Maker’s first PS3 game, it’s very much rooted in the past and shows no progress forward except for the battle system, which finds itself caught in the major flaw of only having two characters. The game would have worked beautifully as an action game, but as an RPG, it is missing some of the basic staples that make any RPG worthwhile. The story is flat, with rarely any emotion displayed throughout, even when something tragic happens. With a well told story, good characters and some polish, this game could have really exploded onto the scene, showcasing a very unique battle system. As it is, though, this game is lacking in so many ways that it is very hard to recommend to anyone, even as a weekend rental. I really hope for better things next time from Hit Maker and NIS, as the battle system has a lot of potential in the right setting and it’s the battle system alone that keeps this from a bottom dwelling 1 of 5.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Shallow non-combat gameplay
Unique and strategic combat