23 February 2013 | dave4sale
A must play for all RPG fans
Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is a RPG that newcomers might write off as "just another JRPG" if they judge the game based on the cover art alone. However, Growlanser has many features that set it apart from other JRPGs and Wayfarer of Time offers a really enjoyable and unique gaming experience.
The story is engaging and full of interesting characters and political intrigue. While most JRPGs tend to be rather black and white when it comes to morals (the villains are evil, all of your allies are good), Growlanser breaks this convention by featuring many morally gray characters with questionable motives. Former allies may turn on you and former enemies may turn out to be allies. The story is also unusually mature for a JRPG; the game shows how bleak and terrible war can be without coming across as preachy or dogmatic.
The battle system of Growlanser series is truly unique- a mix of turn- based SRPG and real time strategy that makes for fun combat that moves at a faster pace than other "old school" SRPGs. The best part about the major battles is that they feature mission objectives that challenge the player to do more than simply "kill all of the enemies"; for example, sometimes your objective is to prevent NPC civilians from being killed. You can often still proceed after failing a mission, but succeeding means your party members respect you more and gaining additional rewards. This keeps the combat interesting and gives experienced gamers an extra challenge.
The other aspect of this game that I love is the relationship system. Growlanser has the most sophisticated relationship / romance that I've ever seen in a RPG- there are many conversation options that will affect how a character views the protagonist. In addition, decisions you make and how you perform in battle all affect how other characters view you. All major characters have their own ending that you can unlock by befriending / romancing them and completing his or her sidequests. The game has a huge amount of replay value with 46 possible epilogues.
The only truly notable flaw is that the first couple hours move slowly as it is mainly set-up / introducing the player to the battle system (but this can be said of most RPGs).
The graphics may seem dated to some but I'm a fan of classic 2D RPGs so I certainly didn't mind this. The beautiful character art by Satoshi Urushihara makes up for the dated graphics though. Frankly, the gameplay is so good, I'd still love this game if they used stick figures.
Occasionally missions can be tricky when you it is not obvious exactly what must be done. There are a couple battles where you more or less stumble upon the solution, while the game provides little or no clues about what must be done. However, for such a large game this is forgivable. There are some areas where I think there should have been more frequent save points.
Every one who considers themselves a fan of RPGs, especially JRPGs, should try this game!