Idea Factory’s a favorite developer of mine! I am, quite possibly, one of like ten people who can claim this. They make pretty divisive JRPGs filled with allegedly creepy fanservice, allegedly obscure game systems and allegedly unbalanced difficulty. Yet they’ve also got tons of content almost without fail and they tend to be pretty addictive once you get the hang of them. One way or the other, Idea Factory just keeps cranking out the goods; Agarest: Generations of War 2 , a Steam port of the PlayStation 3 0riginal, is yet another of those, so let’s dive in.
Agarest 2 follows the story of Weiss, a young man who opens the story by killing a god stone cold dead. He’s kind of a badass. Ten minutes later, though, after the world-shattering cataclysm that his godslaying caused, he wakes up as significantly less of a badass and with a bad case of amnesia. Weiss is shortly tasked with making up for his sin by becoming the vessel for the reincarnation of that god.
He’s going to go about this in two ways. First, he’s going to kill a whole buttload of monsters. Unlike the previous entries in the Agarest series, Agarest 2 isn’t an SRPG! Instead, it features aspects from games like Cross Edge, Valkyrie Profile and Radiant Historia. Your characters and the enemies are both placed on separate grids and take turns beating the crap out of each other, spending a regenerating stock of Action Points to do so. You can freely swap characters into and out of battle; it doesn’t take long before this becomes the key to victory. Combat’s generally fairly easy, but again like Cross Edge you’re going to run into nasty walls of difficulty every so often that you’ll need to grind your way past.
The other way Weiss is going to atone…well, he’s still mortal. He’s not going to live forever. But if he were to have some babies then they’d inherit his quest, so that’s what’s going to happen. The game spans three generations and you’ll get to choose who Weiss ends up with each time; ideally, Weiss and his partner are totally into each other, so the next hero ends up with better stats. Weiss’ partner also affects the kid’s looks, primarily their hair.
Aside from that, well, not much else changes; the plot works out about the same way and the kid is still pretty much the same person, which is kind of a bummer. Still, this sort of generational tomfoolery worked pretty well in Phantasy Star III and it’s still decent here. Naturally you’ll be wondering about the fanservice aspects of the game, given it’s Idea Factory and Agarest in particular; rest assured that they’re there and fanservice-y as ever, but the game’s packed with your typical JRPG adventures so they don’t really take center stage.
The game also features Idea Factory’s standard plethora of bizarre character upgrade systems. You can extract skills from books! You can put boosts on gear! You’re going to need to do all of this or you’re going to die horribly! If you’ve ever played another Idea Factory game you can kind of guess that this is going to be a pain to figure out and that you’re going to have to do so anyway. It’s a love it or hate it thing.
How about the presentation? The graphics bring to mind oldschool 32-bit 2.5D RPGs like Xenogears. That’s basically what we’ve got going on here. Environments are 3D, while character models are…well, they look 2D, but these days who knows? It’s a nice retro look that you don’t see very often and very pretty appealing. The music and sound do their job as well, particularly if you’re into butt-rock and J-pop.
Really, what is there to say about an Idea Factory game? They’ve got a style and chances are you’ve already made up your mind about it. The new combat system employed in Agarest: Generations of War 2 alone makes this a more palatable choice by my standards, since it’s not the super punishingly difficult SRPG extravaganza we saw in earlier Agarest games. Because of this I’ll happily recommend it to any JRPG fan…but never forget that it’s Idea Factory. Make sure you’re ready for what you’ll get.