Game of the Month February, 2005:

System: Playstation Developer: Atlus
These days I hear many gamers say they play RPGs mainly for the stories, and RPGs often receive much critical praise for their twisting and convoluted plotlines. But if you truly, only play RPGs "just for the story", and you own a Playstation or Playstation2, then you have practically no excuse to not give Kartia some of your attention. Kartia is an astoundingly well-written and well-translated strategy RPG of epic proportions, featuring a cast of very likable and believable characters. The saga is split into two storylines, one for the male hero Toxa, and the other for the female hero Lacryma. But only by playing completely through both character's quests will you understand the whole picture, since the plotlines intertwine and fill in each other's gaps.

Toxa and his 80's metal hairdo prepare for flight!

Absolute mayhem on the battlefield! The gameplay of Kartia takes the form of a grid-based strategy RPG, with you and the enemy party taking turns moving your characters around the battlefield and giving them commands. Unlike most other RPGs, Kartia focuses exclusively on its battles; there is NO exploring towns or overworlds in-between fights. You can, however, explore around the current battlefield for treasure chests, boxes, and barrels that may contain hidden goodies, and you can earn new weapons and armor either by winning them from defeated foes, or by using the game's item-creation feature. Kartia uses an interesting rock-paper-scissors system for the phantom monsters that you and the enemy create during the battles. Monsters of doll type are weak against common type, common type are weak against shadow type, and shadow type are weak against doll type. Monsters, weapons, and armor are created by using the power of Kartia, special cards combined with text, and it is also used for casting spells. Since you must keep all of your human characters alive during the battle, mastering the use of phantoms, spells, or just pure strategy is necessary for survival, especially against some of the game's toughest bosses. Kartia's battle system is not really as complicated as I may have made it sound, but in fact, it's quite simple to learn and get the hang of.

Kartia's gameplay may be a bit easy and simplistic (although the final boss of Toxa's quest is a real challenger), but it's the story and characters that will keep you wanting to play more. The character portraits were drawn by Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano, and each one has a multitude of facial expressions to fit the tone of dialogue being spoken at the time. The story centers around a rebellious gang of thieves and soldiers who are trying to create Eden - heaven on earth. The creation of Eden had been attempted in the past, but the island of Eden appeared in the sky and promptly fell, causing massive destruction and death. A group of free knights called "Vigilance" is determined to stop the creation of Eden, and the discoveries these characters will make along their quest will challenge the very foundation of their beliefs and the laws that have been based on them. Kartia is a story about devotion, prejudice, love, and the importance of discovering the truth.

Don't worry, Kun. She's always like that.

And for now, I leave you with only this information, as I plan to do a full review of Kartia in the near future (hopefully). If you love RPGs and you want to play one with a great story and characters, and some interesting battles in-between, then go ahead and give this game a try!



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