To give the game it’s full name, Spectral Souls – Resurrection of the Ethereal Empires, seems only fitting, as this could well, in terms of rich gameplay content, be one of the biggest games ever released for a smartphone platform.
A tactical RPG, in the vein of titles like Final Fantasy Tactics, this Japanese game was originally released on the Sony PSP, and it shows. The graphics and presentation are far above most, if not all, other games you can buy on Xperia Play. Ok, so Gameloft and a few others have some nice looking games to show off, but put next to this game they look almost amateurish.
The cutscenes are beautiful, as good as a Manga movie, and this level of quality filters right down to the in game graphics, with each location full of detail and ambition. The characters, in typical Japanese RPG fashion, are large eyed versions of their cutscene selves, and are endearing and dripping with character.
The amount of sheer effort put into the original game makes you long for developers of that level of talent to bring original games to mobile. The game is in excess of 1.5 Gb, a massive download that does mean the 15 minute refund limit goes out the window, which is galling if you end up not liking the game, especially at this price.
During the long install, you can at least play a game of Pong; a great touch by the developer.
The game charts the story of a world called Neverland as it struggles through the Seven Year War. The story is decent, with a wide range of characters, and their dialogue is pretty close to the mark sometimes. The story arc dips a bit around the halfway point in the game, but picks up the pace a lot better towards the end.
The only problem with the story is that the translation from the Japanese seems to have been a little less than perfect, particularly during those otherwise impressive cut scenes. Motivations aren’t properly explained, and some of the wording is primitive and lacking substance. This isn’t true for the text of the rest of the game, just the cut scenes.
The game itself is a turn based tactical RPG, and a brilliant one at that, with an astonishing array of options for attack and defense. Battles move smoothly, and are nicely fluid in their progression. There is a lot of freedom in what attacks you can use, and there is a complex system of linking attacks between characters, using charge attacks that use more turn time, and it all makes for a truly satisfying battle system.
The problem is that it can all be a bit baffling for the novice player. There is a tutorial, but if you are struggling the only real advice is to keep plugging away, and before you know it, you will find yourself well versed in how the game works. The point is that this is a hardcore, Japanese RPG, and you only get from it what you are prepared to put in.
The controls of the Xperia Play work perfectly with this title, and it does feel like you are playing on a PSP. It is lucky, as you will be spending a lot of time with this before the game is finished.
That can be hundreds of hours, according to the developer. I managed to see the end credits in a touch under 50, but I can see how that could easily be doubled by seeing everything the game has to offer.
The game is very expensive, but I believe that you are getting an extraordinary game for your money, with many hours of enjoyment to be found. A compelling story, rich and detailed graphics and an excellent battle system make this one of the best games out for the Xperia Play.
Expensive compared to other games, but for what you are getting, this would be cheap at twice the price.
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