by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
A Good Year For RPGs
A lot of RPGs have been coming out this year, with pretty much each style of them having several games to scratch the itch for eager gamers. Not all of them have been spectacular, but not all of them have been abysmal either. In fact, most have been falling somewhere in between. It often comes down to each individual player having a different feeling for the titles in question. The Sacred Tears TRUE may not wow people like some titles have this year, but that doesn't mean much. Released earlier and on more than just the PC, it may have stood toe to toe with some of the lauded JRPGs of over a decade ago in the glory days many have thought to be gone.
Party Like It's 1994
Welcome to Genoseed, the city that never sleeps. Utilizing all the classic character tropes that come easily to JRPGs ranging from the lovable klutz to the brooding wallflower and everything in between, Genoseed will serve as the main hub for the entirety of the game. While the layout of the city isn't the best, it feels alive enough with all the different types of NPCs roaming around. Whether it's those who are part of the story or not, I found it worth it to talk to everyone at least once; just like the old days! A problem far too often with modern RPGs in general is lack of life in the NPCs. If they're not important, it's likely to run into those who just use recycled lines making them appear less alive and far more robotic.
Why did I bring this up immediately? Because the majority of your time in the game will be spent in the city itself, by day as private investigators and by night as aspiring thieves Seil and Seana set out on an adventure unlike what they were expecting. But, as exciting as that sounds, the story itself is rather cookie cutter. It's not a bad story; it's just not anything groundbreaking. It mostly just serves as a bridge to bring all 24 main chapters and 24 side chapters together. What shines most isn't the story or the city of Genoseed. It's not even the main characters, but the simple gameplay design aspects; in fact, it shows that simple does not mean lazy.
Rock, Paper, Sci... Sword
Sometimes the simple things go a lot further than over complicating them. While a lot of games out there get complicated and see great success, there are also those that see great failures. It swings towards games that are simplistic as well, with some having success and others having failures. In this game, the combat is as simple as it gets; a turn based Rock-Paper-Scissors scenario disguised as a card combat system. Between each move you're going to be tasked with picking three cards, as well as your opponent; if you pick cards that clash then you clash, if you pick cards that beat another, you do damage, and the evasion cards are for precisely that: allowing you a moment of respite other than your defend card.
When you're not roaming around, you're likely stopped either to talk to someone or because you're engaging in a battle. And even after how long RPS has been a thing it still manages to be enjoyable, even if somewhat predictable when going up against AI characters. But even more so than the simple but enjoyable combat, what I really loved about this game was the artwork.
Whenever there was a scene that couldn't be played out in mere text or something that had to put more emphasis on a major moment in the game, players are treated to some rather beautiful artwork. While it's not supposed to be the focus point of the game, it garners attention with ease. The mix of art styles between the characters and the environments blend them into a sort of gallery that fits the older feel of the game rather than forcing it all to play out with the in-game graphics. The blend between character and environment is something I'd like to see more of in JRPGs using hand drawn scenes. Though the character designs themselves aren't exactly the most unique (I'd felt like I'd seen them everywhere before) they were still very well done and nice to look at. The background music for these scenes and for the whole game in general is also enjoyable though not memorable.
A Drop In The Ocean
In fact, that sums up the game itself. In this day and age, it's not very memorable. Years ago, it might have been able to stand up against the JRPGs of the 1990's. But we have had a lot of them since then, bridging a wide spectrum between pure gold and pure wastes. The fact of the matter is, whether The Sacred Tears TRUE plucks strings of nostalgia or not it falls in the middle of a vast existence of JRPGs. While a fun game with hours of gameplay at only a price tag of $9.99, it may find itself sinking beneath the surface and down into the dark depths to join the long forgotten titles of the past; whether they were good or bad, the big enemy to any game is time; and the less people know about it, the more quickly it fades to black.
Hours of gameplay, simple but addicting combat, large variety of characters both important and minor, very well done art and music
Spending a majority of the game in one city can become boring, story is mostly forgettable