La Pucelle: Tactics PS2 Review

With their offbeat sense of humour and often bizarre gameplay mechanics, Nippon Ichi are a unique company with their own unmistakeable style. The developer doesn’t use exceptional graphics to make themselves noticed, instead crafting games so deep that you’d think you could drown.

Despite being the oldest of the three games (the other two being Disgaea and Phantom Brave of course) La Pucelle: Tactics is the latest game to be released here in Europe. For those not in the know, Tactics is a strategy RPG with 2D sprite based graphics that allows you to level up your little team to a truly ludicrous extent as well as offering oodles of innovation and charm.

Along with her younger brother: Culotte and friend: Allouette, loud mouthed Prier is a member of La Pucelle, a special division of the church of the Holy Maiden who go round beating up demonic creatures (that look about as threatening as a basket full of fluffy pink kittens it has to be said). Things soon ramp up, when evil people with dastardly plans are involved in proceedings.

The usual experience point business is a bit different in Tactics; characters will of course still satisfyingly level up, but as will a few other elements too. Equipped weapons and armour, will themselves level up and in doing so will improve a certain area of the owner’s stats, which differs depending on which items are equipped. This offers ample character customisation, allowing you for instance, to create a magic adept character by equipping items with the intelligence value or a strength proficient character by donning them with items with the attack stat. Of course if you so wish you could create a balanced character, who is decent in all areas. It’s a fantastic method of character growth and one that offers plenty of options.

However, Tactics most noteworthy feature is the fact that you can convert demons to your side (not bosses though, spoilsports, eh?) by use of the “purify” command, which cleanses the evil from their hearts. Defeated enemies, once purified enough, results in them leaving their bad days behind and joining your ranks.

Purification is not only used to transform your little army in to a fighting force of truly unstoppable proportions, but is also used to abolish dark energy, which flows around each map in elemental colours. Purifying the portals at the edge of these, will result in all of its coloured squares imploding, any hapless monster stood on these squares will receive damage. Furthermore, purification of these portals, will grant your items experience, a lot too if a certain item happens to be of the same element of the vanquished portal.

Your strongest form of attack in Tactics are Miracles, which are comparable to the Geostones on Disgaea, in that they give the game an almost puzzle like aspect. These are formed when a stream of energy creates a circle, with at least a single enemy placed within the centre of if. Purifying the stream will set off a gargantuan chain reaction and summon a god, who will administer punishment to your unfortunate opponents and at the same time awarding your weapons with almost ludicrous amounts of experience. Our experience with Miracles was limited however due to the patience and pure luck required to pull them off. There’s nothing more annoying having one set up- which is hard in itself – and then having your enemies moving right at the last minute, just as you are about to unleash it up on them.

The 2D visuals may look primitive by today’s standards but they do put your average, bump-mapped polygonal graphics and the like to shame with their character, which can be difficult to convey, without resorting to using 2D or perhaps Cel shaded visuals in this high technology age.

Yet another highly accomplished strategy title from Nippon Ichi, Featuring a compelling, if not exceptional storyline, a fun sense of humour and most important of all: deep and unique gameplay that the company has quickly become renowned for. La Pucelle: Tactics comes highly recommended for fans of the genre, just be careful not to drown in its depths.