A console style RPG on the PC...What?
Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator, is an American RPG that plays and feels a lot like an RPG from the East. Overall it is a good game, that blends many elements from RPGS, and even does some new things. With a highly imaginative setting and storytelling, Septerra Core is even better than some Asian RPGS.
The world of Septerra is composed of layers of continents or “world shells”. All of which are linked together by a central core, which in itself is a huge Computer, that regulates the world. Needless to say Septerra Core is set in one of the most unique worlds ever seen in RPGS. Furthermore the world seems real thanks to it’s sharp visuals. But also because of the way the world is presented. It has a long history, and each “shell” has it’s own culture and unique design, for instance one of these shells is covered almost entirely by a city, while another is the home of two nations that are constantly at war with one another.
The history of Septerra introduces us to Marduk, the begotten son of The Creator. Whom a millennium ago destroyed the devil Gemma, and rescued the angel Kyra. Legends tell of a time when Septerra will be in danger, and the chosen person will appear to unlock the core and bring salvation to Septerra. This triumvirate of beings are central to the plot and are worshiped by the inhabitants of Septerra.
In Septerra Core, the central character is Maya. A junker on Shell Two. The people of Shell Two live of the scrap of the Shell above. That of “The Chosen”. They are claimed to be decedents of Marduk. Years ago a civil war between the tribes of The Chosen, laid waste to Shell Two, killing Mays’s parents. When the actions of a fellow junker threaten the peace of Septerra, Maya and her companions go on a quest that will span all the shells of Septerra. The plot thickens when Doskias a Chosen General, determines out of hubris that he will be the one to unlock the core, he cares not whom gets in his way. They will see firsthand the cruelty of The Chosen, get involved in political intrigue, learn powerful magic, and of course save the world.
During your quest you will form a party of three from a pool of nine. Each character is unique, Maya is of course the balanced, level headed leader of the party. Others include Grubb, Maya’s friend, whom is a machine expert. Seline a former Chosen Warrior, and one of the coolest characters Araym, is a mercenary with a conscience, he has two mechanical arms that he uses to attack with in battle!
None of the characters feel useless or identical to all others. Which sometimes happens in Japanese RPGS. Making things more interesting, many of the party members do not get along, and will even attack each other during battles! You can undertake side-quests to get members to become friends. In one case you can even help two party members realize that they love each other.
The plot is truly epic and engrossing. And spans about 60 hours of gameplay, with an hour of CGI, and complete voice acting. That’s right you never have to read dialogue it is all spoken. And somehow they fit all of this on one single CD!
The Graphics in Septerra Core are very good. The backgrounds are done using pre-rendered images, which on a high resolution monitor look amazing. The characters them selves are big on screen and well detailed. No super deformed heroes here! The world map graphics are in particular nice to look at. The CGI looks amazing, almost CG Hollywood movie quality. Combat looks cool with details like the lighting on Maya as she fires her gun. The spell visuals are good. Of course the summon spells take the prize.
The music is excellent. Often subtle, it excels in fitting the moment. From they war drum sound of battle to the world map music, with each world shell having it’s own theme. The voice acting is also top notch as it would have to be with the game being completely in voice. There are no major names in the cast, which makes the quality of the performances even more impressive. Oddly enough there are no voiceovers during battles unlike most RPGS. No battle cries or incanting or spells.
The Gameplay at times seems to be an amalgam of various RPGS you may have played. Control wise it is very similar to Anachronox and Return to Krondor. There are no enemies of the world map as in Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, or Chrono Trigger. And Maya reminds me of Alis of Phantasy Star.
You fight monsters. Gain experience. Find and use key items. All the typical RPG goodness.
Battle use a modified version of Final Fantasy spawned ATB. Only instead of one time gauge there are three. Which represent how powerful your attack will be, but of course take longer to attack, and have a higher rate of missing. During turns you attack, use items, use special abilities of characters, and cast spells via Fate Cards.
Fate Cards have a specific spell built in. And can be combined with others for varying levels of effect. For example a Heal combined with and All card create Heal All. Up to three party members can combine to produce spells. This is also how you summon creatures in battle. A Summon plus Fire card, summons a fire dragon to burn your enemies. All the summoned creatures are based not on myth and legends of our world like in Final Fantasy, but on myth and legend of the world of Septerra. The only downside to these is that you cannot skip the animations, therefore when fighting certain bosses you must watch the same scene repeatedly.
On the downside however Septerra Core is riddled with bugs. To play it you will almost definitely need a patch. And it takes some work to get it to work of Windows XP. Without the patch the game tends to freeze during a boss battle about half way through the game. Recently I discovered another game killing bug, in which you cannot land your ship at Azziz’s Temple. And some parts of the game are just too difficult. I had to buy the strategy guide so that I could finish the game. Why can’t the spell animations be skipped?
The Bottom Line
Overall Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator is a very good RPG. Well worth your time. It is as good and in some cases better than many Japanese RPGS. You can probably find the game for about 10 bucks so why not give it a try?