ira vehementi __________Sephiroth!
loquor mee menti:
factus de materia,
similis sum folio,
de quo ludunt venti...
Via lata gradior
inplicor et vitiis
magis quam salutis,
mortuus in anima
curam gero cutis."
- "Estuans Interius," Carmina Burana
"I thought this was supposed to be about lesbians..."
- I admit nothing
Raidy is a wandering warrior in improbable armor, famed throughout the land for her skills with a blade, her noble heart, and her ability to zap the ever-loving snot out of her enemies. Her talent with swordplay and lightning magic fuse in her signature technique, the Thunder Slash, earning her the accurate if rather uninspired moniker of "Lightning Warrior."
One day, Raidy rides through a random town, only to discover the inhabitants are comprised solely of elderly people in low spirits. It turns out that monsters have kidnapped all of the young women of the town and carried them off to a nearby tower, and none of the young men who set off to rescue them have been heard from since. Nervous about the situation, but never one to leave the downtrodden unaided, Raidy sets off for the tower herself.
What horrors await...?
Lightning Warrior Raidy
Um...I blame Lordlee. Sorry! Or, I would if I didn't suspect that he hates this game more than I did. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's get started.
This is a first-person dungeon crawler. You walk around corridors and rooms, find treasure, and fight monsters for experience. Each floor has random encounters with three varieties of monster, as well as event areas and a fixed boss fight. The difficulty curve varies wildly between certain floors. And by that we mean "enjoy your third floor."
For a dungeon crawler, customization is limited-to-nonexistent, but the game is short enough that that's never really a problem.
In-combat options include physical attacks, a magical attack, defending, chugging a potion, and hauling ass. Most of these work as you'd expect, with the special case being Raidy's magical attack; Thunderslash uses MP (half of whatever she has at the time), doing damage based on how many points are used, and (most importantly) is auto-hit.
Wererat. An easy first-floor enemy.
The combat works well enough (HA), with one major gripe. Certain monsters, like Raidy, have magical attacks (spells, breath weapons, and the like) that auto-hit. Unlike Raidy, their abilities do fixed damage and don't decrease in effectiveness with use, meaning your only defense is either running, praying that they don't use their ability too many times before you kill them, or simply having too many HP to kill quickly. Considering that this game's healing (and magic recovery) is limited to potions, the difficulty these monsters pose is often not worth the trouble of fighting them.
This is what I would say really kills the game for me (although that's far from the only problem). As mentioned earlier, the difficulty curve is out of control, and it's mostly because of these special attacks. The absolute hardest part of the game is the third floor, where all enemies have special attacks, and the amount of grinding required by this game as well as the way the experience gain works ensures you will be spending a lot of time with them (as does the size of the floor). The sixth and final floor also has nothing but monsters with special attacks, but there's a crucial difference: by floor 5, the enemies are giving out enough experience to easily grind your way to a level where fighting the last boss is trivial. This means that you have no reason whatsoever to fight the sixth floor enemies, especially since no enemies on floor 5 have special attacks. Making things even stranger is the fact that the bosses of floors 2, 3, and 4 all have special attacks, but the penultimate and final bosses don't. It's less of a difficulty curve, more of a random difficulty SCRIBBLE. I could rant on and on, but I think you understand my point.
Out-of-combat exploration is simple, but well done. Figuring out the general layout of each floor is progressively more difficult, and the puzzles involving items and movement traps are rather challenging to decipher, even after you locate the map for each floor. One thing I couldn't quite figure out was this game's seeming pretensions towards visual novel-style choices. Certain situations can pop up where Raidy can search rooms and question inhabitants, but their only purpose seems to be to trip people up. Not questioning trapped girls enough, for instance, can make boss fights unwinnable, since you won't know their weakness.
Another fine shopping list of things that are wrong with this game. The exploration, contrary to Drow's oddly merciful description, is awful. Everything looks the same (until the last floor), your map isn't filled out as you walk for some god forsaken reason, and there are certain spaces that turn you around automatically (which you are not actively informed of and are very easy to miss). This means that if you aren't using a guide you can very easily wander around in the same grey brick hallways for eternity, and that's a real problem (especially on floor 3). Oh and of course the obligatory loot that appears on each floor (mostly stashes of potions, but there's also new equipment) does not appear on the map. You have to actually step on the square with the chest to even learn that the chest exists.
Hey, I was making my own maps and banging into walls for secret doors in Pool of Radiance when most other kids were cursing at the cheep-cheeps in Mario. I grew up with dungeon crawlers and their foibles, so I'm undoubtedly more inclined to be merciful...
If you hadn't spoken at length with the girl you rescued on the previous floor, you'd be absolutely screwed now.
Please. I'm trying to forget.
The weird part is, I'm kinda willing to give a passing grade to this story. As Raidy penetrates further into the tower, more and more of the monsters' plans are revealed...and more of the horror is exposed. Long story short, each floor of the tower is run by a head monster devoted to a particular type of sexual torture, all working towards emotionally breaking women (sometimes involving captured men) and turning them over to the tentacle demon at the top of the tower. Why on earth would I approve of such a story?
Well, can you think of any other organization that would more satisfying to violently shatter? What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the adulation of the women they oppressed! Or, as Raidy herself puts it, "I'm going to beat down every single monster in this tower, if I have to do it through sheer force of will!"
Two problems, though. 1) I wish the story wouldn't linger so lovingly on what happens when you lose to any of the boss monsters (you suffer that floor's particular torture), including dedicating the unlockable alternate ending to such a thing. 2) The Good Ending is way too short, with a brief flare of sheer awesome, and an anticlimax afterwards.
Um...there's Raidy, there's the boss monsters, and there's the giant tentacle demon. Characterization is sparse, and the only common thread is that I hated the monsters with the fire of a million bunsen burners, to the point where I could almost cheer when you turn their own particular tortures (whipping, insertion, hot wax, enemas, and extreme grinding) against them.
I'm willing to give serious credit for this part, though. The artwork is rather good. As you can probably tell, the particular design conceit for this game is that the standard "monsters" are basically girls in absurd(ly revealing) costumes, and they aren't so much "slain" as "driven into sexy poses." Whether this works or not is up to personal inclination, of course. Strangely, from minotaurs to cerberii to Death herself I actually rather liked the design for these most moe monsters this side of moemon.
I would give the skeleton design the most creativity points.
Then, of course, you see the tentacle demon behind the whole thing, who is absolutely hideous. And the other head monsters aren't horrible, but they aren't moe, either.
Oh the tentacle demon. Is there anyone who didn't see the last boss being a tentacle demon coming? I was sort of hoping they'd be a little more creative, like maybe having the last boss be some pretty boy overlord-type. At least that'd be amusing.
The animation quality for the dungeon crawling is excellent, especially compared to the older titles I'm used to, but the best that can be said about the music is that one or two pieces are good, and the rest...aren't annoying.
Personally I cannot hear that title screen song enough, but for the most part the music isn't bad. It is however, very forgettable.
...Oh and one little extra thing that Drow didn't mention: the translation. Now I did not of course, play the original Japanese game, but there's still some bits that are obvious an annoy me. They label the (very obvious) dullahan monster as a medusa, translate "breath" as "recover" and supposedly dropped a line altogether in the orgy scene. Just a note.
Oh, right, forgot about the dullahan (funny, though, they also give her a medusa-like Gaze attack). We're just barely skirting the edge of Safe For Work, or we'd post an image of her, too; there's something irresistibly cute about an armored knight carrying a claymore and its own helmeted severed head...who's armor breaks, revealing the extremely surprised (and perfectly intact) girl within.
Good god. I hope you're in to S&M, 'cause that's 85% of the stuff in here. Another 10% is plain rape. The leftover is two scenes, one where Raidy agrees to have sex with a guy who'll give her a useful item (can't kill him, after all, since he's one of the brainwashed village men), and one with a massive and bizarrely consensual orgy on the top floor.
Raidy's got too much of a moral compass to smack down a guy who isn't actively raping someone.
And that 95%? Yeah...that was plenty to ruin the game for me.
And so we reach the real point of the game, for which all the horrible flaws would be forgivable. I didn't hate it as much as Drow did, but I have some real complaints. First of all, this game was advertised as a yuri game through and through. This makes every bit of het porn a mark against it. By my count, that's 5 scenes if you count the tentacle demon.
But that's not all, oh no. Most of the fetish is... well not "tame" but you aren't exactly going to turn your gaze away in horror and fear either. AND THEN, you reach the fourth floor boss, a dark elf with a fondness for enemas. Suffice to say that yes, the CGs go there.
May Lolth take her soul, the bitch...
Another thing to note (although I'm not sure it's a "flaw") is that most scenes will have 1, maybe 2 CGs to them, cutting further into the payoff for all that grinding, or lessening the horror of the story, depending on where you are sitting.
This would have been a decent little dungeon crawler if not for the sex. That's the sad part. It might be worth a look if you're really curious, but otherwise, don't bother.
I would say the same, except the dungeon crawling was what truly angered me. I definitely would not suggest buying it, or even piracy. Considering how poor it was I wonder if they even updated anything from the original early 90's game. ...HOWEVER it seems like the sequel (already out in Japan and set for a release in the west soon) may actually be fixing most of the complaints both of us lodged today. I might look into that when it comes out.
I think there's two sequels, actually, though I don't know about translation status on the third. Might look into that, too, just to see if there's less bondage. 'Cause dammit, this is what "yuri" means to me!
Oh and one last thing: there's a manga. It's a compilation volume done by various artist and scanned by SaHa. As far as h-manga go, you could do worse, but it varies from chapter to chapter (the dark elf and berserker chapters are awful, as is the last chapter).