Review – Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel

We have played through the final chapter in the Ar tonelico series. Was it worth the effort, or just a waste of time? Read our review, after the jump, to find out.

The Ar tonelico series has been around for some time, and started out on the PlayStation 2. Gust, the developer, is well known for their great storytelling and detailed characters. The series has always had quite a bit of sexual innuendo, and the latest installment continues that trend.

Ar Tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel is the third, and final installment to the series. It is an RPG that in Japan was known as Ar Tonelico III. The story follows Aoto, a young steeplejack (someone who works up high on buildings, water towers, etc.). He comes across a young woman, Saki, under attack by soldiers and tries to save her. After defeating several soldiers, and one he mistakenly calls a guy (she does look like a man), they outnumber him. Saki then goes into her magic mode and turns the soldiers into cake. He then finds out she is a fugitive and a Reyvateil, a humanoid that uses song magic in battle. In order for her to be at full strength, she must shed her clothes and have as much skin as possible showing. He promises to protect her and to help her escape to safety. Along their journey they run across another Reyvateil named Finnel, as well as several other characters that will join their group.

The story itself is long, and you can easily burn through 30 hours as you reach the end. There are multiple endings, and a guide would probably be best to make sure you see all of them. Save points are available just about everywhere, so save often. The story is very amusing at times, and at others is very tragic. As you play through it, you may find yourself starting to like the characters enough to actual care about them, or even dislike them. The dialogue can be a little risque and the “M” rating should tell you that. Sexual innuendo and undertones are everywhere but don’t take away from the quality of the overall story. It might actually add a little to it.

Reyvateils, it turns out, not only have multiple personalities, but multiple personae. These are actual characters that will come out and take over not only their mind, but actually look like someone else. Quite a bit goes on inside their minds, and thanks to Dive shops, you can jump into them, for a fee. While inside their mind, you’ll come across Hyuma’s. These are little girls that can enhance the Reyvateil’s song magic, and make them stronger fighters.

Hyuma

Now, in order to program your Reyvateil, you’ll have to approach them after checking in at a save point. Here you can choose to program any Rayvateil that is currently in your party. You’ll visit them in their room, and in order to fully program them, they’ll need to undress. They are reluctant at first, but after a few trips to the dive shop, and unlocking more layers of their mind, they eventually come around. You’ll be able to program each personae of the Reyvateil, but Hyumas can only be active in one persona at a time.

Deep Program Time?

Also available at the save point is the ability to craft new items. It is the synthesis system that uses items found along your journey. Keep an eye out for chests that contain items that you’ll use for this. Each Reyvateil has their own set of items they can synthesize, and each item has its own dialogue. It was very surprising to see the depths to which the developers took this game. The synthesis system can take two or more objects and combine them to make something much better. You can create better armor, weapons, or new skills or supermoves.

Let's Build Something Together

 

Armor and super moves will come in handy with the battle system. No turn based battle here. The battle will center on protecting your Reyvateil, and the music is key to increasing her strength. There’s a beat meter that comes up on the screen, and if you attack to the rhythm of the music, you’ll build up the purge meter, and in turn, give yourself the power to have your Reyvateil purge her clothes. Once your purge meter is full, press the proper button and shake the controller, and she will take off a layer of clothing. The more you purge, the more clothes she takes off, and three purges equals underwear. You can then use her full power on your enemies, and the HP damage she’ll inflict can grow exponentially. A fourth purge takes her to the fliposphere and that attack will kill all of your opponents, regardless of their HP remaining.

Protect Your Reyvateil in Battle

Initiating battles is random, and can happen anytime you are walking around. Each area has a limited number of battles to be fought, and there’s a meter at the bottom showing you how many more you’ll have to face. Some levels are large, and it’s not hard to get confused with where you’ll need to go next. You’ll probably fill the battle meter up on these levels. I know we did.

After each battle is successfully completed, everyone in your party will be rewarded with experience points and items for synthesis, along with leaf (in game cash) and DP, which is used while diving into the Reyvateils.

Level Up

The graphics for the game are exactly what you would expect from a Japanese Role Playing Game. Anime style with Manga style storytelling. The graphics aren’t exactly next-gen quality, but they aren’t hard on the eyes either. A few of the battles had a tendency to slow down the game a bit. Might have been due to a large amount of action and characters on the screen, but it didn’t take away enough from the gameplay to cause us anything more than a mild irritation.

We were sent the premium edition from NIS America, and it included a 40 page art book and the soundtrack from the game. The art book describes all of the characters in the story, along with each Reyvateil’s personae. It goes into detail on just about every aspect of the game, and the art work is phenomenal. The music on the CD includes 42 tracks from the game. These are well written, and nicely performed tunes that should impress anyone. From touching melodies, to upbeat battle tunes, to quirky tunes that fit right into some of the quirkier dialogue scenes of the game. Once again the depth the developers went to astounds us. The sound is of top quality.

Ar Tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel is a fun game that J-RPG lovers should definitely pick up. With a long, and decent written story, entertaining dialogue, and decent graphics. Developer Gust wet to great depths to create a game that has lasting appeal, and great replay value. The multiple endings alone will give hours of extra game play, but there’s also DLC available to stretch it out even more.

If you’re a J-RPG fan, pick up the premium copy NOW!

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