Dark Cloud was one of the first successful RPGs to launch on the PS2 and spawned an equally successful sequel a few years later. The developer Level 5 set a new bar with their series, bringing in a town creation system to the traditional action RPG. Since then, fans have been clamoring for Dark Cloud to make the jump to PS3, and while that still hasn’t happened, Level 5 has brought an excellent new IP as they made the generation jump. White Knight Chronicles is the latest addition to the PS3 RPG library, and brings the classic feel of Dark Cloud along with it. A tale of love, bravery, and hope are few of the various themes you will find in the story of White Knight Chronicles.
Dark Cloud fans are saying that White Knight Chronicles was supposed to be Dark Cloud 3. Does it really show any similarities to the Dark Cloud series? Let’s take a look in the HOTs and the NOTs of the game.
Comparing the graphics of the current Japanese RPGs available right now, White Knight Chronicles holds its own against the likes of Star Ocean: The Last Hope or Final Fantasy XIII. The character designs are in traditional Japanese anime style. They are cute and you will find a lot of interesting creatures such as the frogs, and a small rabbit that talks. I noticed the characters in this game are similar to those in Final Fantasy XII; e.g Viera creatures.
There is some slight screen tearing but its very rare that you’ll come across it. The CG graphics are stunning but as for the in game cut-scenes, they are just average. One of the things that I love about this game is the huge designs of towns and dungeons. Yes, I must say that the towns and dungeons in this game are huge and you will be spending most of your time exploring them.
Creating your Avatar
Before starting your adventure, you will have to customize and create an avatar that you will be using on your avatar such as the nose, eyes, and a lot of things that will help you make the character you want. This avatar will be used for both online and offline (story mode) portions of the game.
Fans who love MMORPG style battle systems will love this game since it uses a lot of MMO elements. The battle system is done in real time except you take turns (when the wheel fills up, you can attack). I found the battle system to be similar to Final Fantasy XII (or any MMORPG) because as you attack, you can move around the field. Even though you are moving around, you will still get hit even though you’re not within range of the enemy.
When you see an enemy on the field, an icon on top of your character’s head will appear. Once you see that, you are going to trigger a battle. Remember, not all enemies are hostile. If you trigger a battle, sometimes, they won’t attack you. Just keep a lookout on what you are attacking. As for your teammates they’re controlled by the AI. You can change their tactics via the menu.
One of the good things I found about this game is the ability for the characters to be multi-class. Any one of your six characters that you will get has the ability to use all kinds of weapons and attacks. Each time you level up you get skill points that you can use to purchase skills. When you equip a weapon, make sure you have skills bought for that type. If you buy a Longsword weapon and you have been spending time on your Axe’s skills, the Longsword will be useless unless you purchase skills for it. As for magic, I highly recommend that you equip all your characters with healing spells.
Only three characters can be used for each battle. As for the rest, they will still level-up even though they’re not used. At the bottom of the screen, you will see three lines with seven slots each open for attacks to be set. The skills that you purchase can be placed here so that you can have easy access to them once you are in battle.
Similarities to Dark Cloud
Honestly, I think this game is Dark Cloud 3. One of things that will bring joy to any Dark Cloud fan is a cameo from the same frog that synthesizes weapons in Dark Cloud 2. Instead of just one small frog, you get to actually meet Phibenacci, a giant frog that will be part of the main storyline. After doing a quest for him, he will offer you his service to synthesize weapons.
Aside from synthesizing, you are able to combine items and equipment. As you explore dungeons and towns, when you see something sparkling approach it and loot it. These harvested materials can be used in synthesis to create useful items Basically, these are one of the best features in the Dark Cloud series that everyone loved.
Expect to watch lengthy cut scenes in White Knight Chronicles. Thanks to the space that Blu-Ray offers – developers can now manage to put a lot of cut-scenes that we all can enjoy. Some of the in game cut scenes are amazing but I personally enjoyed the CG ones better.
Geonet- Online Play
One of the great features in White Knight Chronicles is the ability to do a quest with up to four players online. The online service called Geonet is an online hub where gamers can meet up and look at the quest, download items / content, create your town where everyone can gather, exchange items, and a lot more. These things can be done during the story mode with Leonard or even after finishing it.
Georama on White Knight Chronicles is similar to the Dark Cloud games. The purpose of Georama is like PlayStation Home except it is yours to create. You can create stores, design your town, and a lot more. Before creating your ideal utopia, you must gather parts and use them. Once you create your town, you can freely roam around it! This can only be accessed via Geonet. If you have a Bluetooth headset, now is the time use them and team up. Before starting an online quest, talk to the Quest Officer in the world you are in.
If quest is your thing, there will be a waiting room for anyone who is looking to partner up. In this International Edition, the majority of the DLC that was released in the Japanese version will be included in this game. There are over 50 based online quests and of course, more are coming. Each quest you do will have all the required information you need such as the recommended level. Honestly, the quests that you can buy through the Guilds in town are meant to be done with a friend.
Aside from downloading a quest via Geonet, Guilds in various towns will offer to sell a quest. Buy them cheap. Once you have bought them, go to the World Map and you should see them popped up. The online portion of this game should prolong the longevity in this game. There is no doubt you can spend more than 100 hours in playing White Knight Chronicles.
Dungeons can be boring…
The dungeons are massive, so expect to spend a lot of time exploring them. Similar to Dark Cloud and Final Fantasy XII, you will spend most of your time exploring big dungeons and yes, they tend to get boring and repetitious. Expect around at least one hour to finish a dungeon. Make sure you have a lot of healing items ready or have healing spells set to for all your characters. The dungeons remind me of Rogue Galaxy and Dark Cloud. They are nicely done but it can get tiring at times.
The voice-overs in White Knight Chronicles are great but its effect can be ruined through the facial animations of the game. Every time I watched a cut-scene, I always got annoyed at how their lips moved.
Story starts off slow…
With big dungeons and towns to explore, you will notice that story progression is slow. The game starts off with Leonard, a worker from Rapacci’s wine, delivering wines to the celebration of the coming of age of the Princess of Balandor. Disaster strikes when the Princess is kidnapped during the celebration. With that, Leonard awakens an ancient power that allows him to make pacts with a White Knight. From there, the story focuses on Leonard rescuing the Princess from the Magi, the organization that kidnapped Princess Cisna. Pretty common eh? But as you spend at least 10 hours in the game, only then does the story finally starts to kick in.
Trophies are hard to unlock
Gamers who are aspiring to unlock the elusive Platinum Trophy will have a hard time ahead of them. The requirement in unlocking a trophy in White Knight Chronicles is not based through story progression but through item collection. Since the game’s main focus is synthesizing items and weapons, you will have to spend time learning recipes.
Yes, White Knight Chronicles is a great game and shouldn’t always be compared to the Dark Cloud series. It shows several similarities to the Dark Cloud series but it has something unique that will keep gamers hooked; specifically the online features. The nice item creation and Georama is what makes this game interesting and fans of RPG games or generally the Dark Cloud series shouldn’t miss an opportunity to get this game. It is not perfect but I highly recommend it to all RPG fans.White Knight Chronicles International Edition Review,