Sunday, June 16, 2024

AVARIS3 | REVIEW | A PS4 Indie From Japan Makes It's Way West!!!

Journey with me on this discovery of a newly released Japanese gaming experience that has just now reached the West through the PlayStation Store!!! ...

Avaris3, a Japanese indie developed by StudioGIW, is the third entry in their ongoing series. Like the other two entries this one features a female protagonist, and her armies who are at her beckon call. In this instance it's Genie Princess Alvia who finds new power in Avaris amidst a holy execution by a human noble. 

Hellbent on revenge, and bestowed with the power of the king of demons Alvia, in the company of her aides Shine Nightmare and Light Nightmare, set out to destroy humanity for their wrongdoings. While Alvia's motivation is vengeance, her tag along company in the guise of the twin demon king daughters, simply wants the recovery of their Sword of Malice. Upon acquiring it they stand by Alvia as she sets out to tear the world asunder one war at a time.

Avaris3, at it's core, is more or less an auto-battler with detailed battle management mechanics. At the main menu you have access to four different hubs of operation. There's a demon menu wherein your collected demon cores in Great, Greater, Demon, and Aide form and various rarities (C - SSS) with differing attributes can be assigned, and organized in party formation. 

The Organization menu, as such, allows for strategic formation, and position priority based on demon core siege values. Assigning the demon cores to these multiple section formations requires a set amount of OrgaPT per unit. The cost increases the more units you place. Not only can you place these demonic forces or cores in formation, but you can also assign magic items to them that are won through sieges. That, and tether them in synchronous fashion using a Zvald currency for added benefits.

Accompanying your army of demonic cores are hired mercenaries from the human side of the Kingdom of Avaris. These human hires will fight alongside you and your army for a certain number of battles, and a set price point. After that they can be disbanded, or rehired if they proved good enough. Like your army of demon cores these human mercenaries also come in different types, and it is these variations and the number of overall units in the battalion that will increase or decrease their hiring cost. You can name these mercenary groups as you see fit once hired as well. 

While out on the battlefield you will, as Princess Alvia, attempt to avoid damage by staying surrounded with your army. Surrounded, but close enough to the action to harvest summoning energy which can be used to summon the more powerful demons. Through the limited use of the Eye of Horus you can gauge enemy whereabouts as they move across the battlefield. Allowing for a more speedy confrontation in tandem with the movement speed boost via button press.

Beyond this, the point of each war is to take out key characters leading these human armies. For the most part it's an auto-battle situation with you being the one leading the army in the direction of conflict. Wherever Princess Alvia goes so too will her army of demon cores. All attacking until they die or kill off their opposition.

Speaking of demon cores these are earned through the wars. Wars are short lived skirmishes between Princess Alvia's army, and the armies of how many ever human leaders are out to confront her. Each square in the "Next War" menu will show, via numerical value, how many leading characters you will be up against. 

It is this menu that also houses sieges which are fought via a button clicker battle, and not actually out on the battlefield. How you prepare beforehand will ultimately determine the outcome of the war or siege. With each victory comes spoils. You'll earn gold and Zvald through the wars. The latter being a currency tied to a demon syncing option that carries over certain skills and attributes from the conjoined demon core. 

Outside of the unit and party micromanagement you'll also earn special crystals through sieges alongside the magic items that can be used to unlock new skill tree bonuses that effect gameplay, and open up new features along the way. Extras come in the form of menu backgrounds, and even multiverse modes in which you can test run your various units to see how powerful they are or how they would perform. 

The Presentation ...

Visually the game looks like an older PC strategy game that you'd have seen on older, but not old PCs. It has an original PlayStation appearance and features an art design that reflects this early era of gaming. While the graphics may seem somewhat dated for modern consoles the game is still aesthetically beautiful. 

The tiny pixels clustered together to create detailed character sprites, and background images really makes the game pop! It being a sort of top-down isometric game does little to lessen this notable quality. The game harbors highly detailed interactive terrains that play into battle. Making it more difficult for some demon cores to traverse depending on whether there's land or water in the way. It's details like these that really add value, and a reason for the near $30 price tag. 

On the sound side of things you get Japanese voice-overs complimented by English subtitles (if you prefer). This brings the characters to life in their little cameos between key instances within the game. The voice acting is top notch for a Japanese casting, and suits each character well. That aside the battle sound effects are varied, and as you'd expect from an auto-battler that has units dealing death in melee and magic means. 

The soundtrack, beyond all of that, is really nice. There's actually an anime-like outro song with lyrics shown on screen early into a playthrough. That and a symphonic/orchestral music track that compliments both the ongoing action and the menu navigation. It is one of those rare Japanese gems that we, in the West, rarely ever get the privilege to play or witness.

The Verdict ...

As complicated or off putting as 'Avaris3' might appear it is not. There's a well done hands-on tutorial that explains everything. Once you get used to it you're free to continue the game, and amass an army worthy of a demon king/princess. The micromanagement aspects in the mix also add, in their own way, to the overall experience by letting you play a key role in determining the outcome of each war or siege. 

What you do in preparation matters each and every time you go out for war in Avaris. Seeing the enemy laid to waste in a matter of seconds due to well planned party management is kind of satisfying in a power trip sort of way. Showcasing in that short lived overwhelming display just how powerful Alvia, and her army is. While you can obviously be overpowered in this way sometimes, it is not always the case though, and getting careless on the Avaris battlefield can spell GAME OVER just as fast as you can claim a victory. That's part of warfare in Avaris3.

Every feature in this game, from the menus to the battles, are made as cohesive and complimentary as they could possibly be given the micromanagement aspect of gameplay. I think the developer more than earned the asking price with this entry through their ingenuity, and quite honestly I hope it sells well enough for them to release more of their games over here in the West. We've been starving for Japanese games this good and unique. I've always believed that Japan has the best video games in the world, and Avaris3 speaks truth to that very conclusion. I hope you give it a buy and a try if you are into strategy RPGs. It is worth every penny!!! What are your thoughts? Is $38 too much for an indie of this type?

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