After developing the big flop known as Natural Doctrine, Kadokawa Games joined forces with Chara-Ani to make one more remake for the Legend of Heroes franchise with Ao no Kiseki – Evolution. This is a direct sequel to the last Nihon Falcom title they remade: Zero no Kiseki, which was simply sublime! Therefore, you can anticipate some high expectation for this game from me…
Story & Characters
The story takes place just a few months after the events from Zero no Kiseki. Lloyd Bannings and the other members at the Special Support Section are on separated ways to fix the mess created by the conflicts in the last adventure.They scheduled to rejoin later, but before this happens, Lloyd get reinforcements in the form of two new SSS members: Noel Seeker – A sergeant who helped Lloyd and his friends many times during the first game and has officially become part of the team. But the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Lazy Hemisphere, the mysterious gang leader/host boy who caused many problems around CrossBell, but was a big help during the demoniac cult incident. He was decorated for his services and took the opportunity to ask to join the SSS, since he has a big interest in Lloyd.
In this chapter, the whole plot around the mysterious KeA gets unfold and it also becomes the trigger to the beginning of a World War that is currently taking place during the time of Sen no Kiseki. However, different from the brats who don’t know any better from Class VII, Lloyd and his team are professional Heroes who have full knowledge of what is going on and possess the powers to change things for better.Both the heroes from the previous game as the new allies get a lot of character development. Among them, Lloyd is the one with most character growth, as he finally discovers the truth about his brother assassination, and consequently, stops following his shadow. This molds Lloyd into an even greater hero than he was and develops him into one of the best protagonists I’ve ever seen!There’s also a big involvement of Ouroboros, the illusive group involved in darkness who have been pulling the strings behind every event in the series in order to put their Phantom Plan in motion. It’s on this chapter where Wiseman gets replaced and their preparations get finally completed.
The battle system used in this series is nearly perfect and always gets compliments for how simple and deep it can get, so the nice people from Nihon Falcom usually don’t try to change too much something that has been working for many years, and since this is a direct sequel, there’s even less new features than usual. The biggest addition is the Burst system, which denies enemy actions to give you a sequence of turns that only stops when your Burst gauge gets empty. Unfortunately, this resource can only be used during certain dungeons.One other welcomed inclusion is a car you get right at the beginning. It works just like an Airship would in a Final Fantasy game, letting you revisit nearly any place from the first game. This gives you a wide area to explore in order to look for special items, abilities, rare monsters, fishing spots and side-quests.It gets even more interesting when you notice every area in the game changes with each event, giving you a reason to pay a new visit to every single place with each new chapter. In terms of new elements, this game feels a bit like a DLC. A really huge and awesome DLC, but since you can see many “left-overs” from the first chapter being recycled, it gives you a feeling you’re playing just a expansion. You can even load your save file from the previous game to get your levels and items back.
This is actually highly recommended, since it also loads the choices you did during the first adventure, giving you some extra affection points with your favorite SSS member and also changing some dialogs to match your previous decisions.
This is a complicated subject. The graphics seen here are pre-rendered 3D models in a SD style, which would obviously lose to the 3D graphics and models rendered in real time from Sen no Kiseki.However, the graphics from Sen were unfinished, bugged, with a (non-intentional) papier-mâché-like texture, clumsy shadow effects, stiff animations and “copy-pasted” material everywhere.In contrast to this, the graphics we get on Ao no Kiseki take this visual style to the limit, with both characters and backgrounds being very detailed and smoothly animated. It’s an obvious result considering the developers are much more used to this graphic style and are still experimenting with Sen no Kiseki.
The music from Falcom games is one of the things that gave them their fame. Their tracks are usually fantastic, and it was not different for this game. For me who review a lot of Galges – which mostly got just average BGMs at best – listening to this soundtrack was a breath-taking experience! Many times I got myself jumping around the room with excitement while singing along the song of an important battle event…AND THOSE GOT NO LYRICS! The BGM so good that takes me back to the innocence of being a child who can simply enjoy a game and forget boring things like my composure and self-image! To be honest, there is a short-end to this. The opening theme – Aoki Negai – sounds a bit weird and is not on par with the tracks you hear during the playthrough, but this music is actually just an arranged version from one of the battle themes: “Concentrate all Firepower”. The people from Kadokawa Games just added vocals and changed it to a slower rhythm, which felt really forced. Well, at least the scenes in the opening are cool, showing events that actually happen during the story climax…except for that scene with Elie and Tio waking up while wearing few clothes. That’s was just for fan-service!The voice acting is so perfect! The characters are able to convey a good variety of feelings, and it’s convincing. Be it during an action filled scene or during a dramatic scene with people crying, IT WORKS! The acting is able to make you care for what is happening on the screen, even if it’s about a giant robot getting destroyed! Japanese voice actors are known to be one of the best in the world, but one can notice those working in this game are on an upper level!
Words are not enough to describe how satisfied I am for playing this game! It fulfilled all of my expectations, and then some more! It is seriously one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played, and I play A LOT of those! It has all the excellency from Zero no Kiseki Evolution, but without all those freezing glitches. It also got rid of those damn long loading times from Sen no Kiseki and gave a satisfying conclusion to a complex and interesting story, while leaving many cliffhangers to be explored with future games on the franchise, which is great news for fans of Lloyd and his merry mates, since he will still participate in new adventures and was recently confirmed to make an appearance in the newest Sen no Kiseki 2!I believe this will be my favorite game for this year, but we are still only halfway through it and there are many interesting titles to be released this year, so I would love to see if some other game is capable to dethrone my heroes!