In Growlanser every character seems to be an orphan; quiet types, who say things like “…” and “umm”. You see, most of the characters’ parents where killed in the war, because war is bad. The characters are out to stop war, because war is bad. Did I mention that war is bad? Well it is. The game told me. Every five seconds. The previous generations of orphans had a great idea to stop the war. They pointed a big gun at everyone and asked them to be quiet. However, now there’s a new enemy. The earth is being attacked by the mysterious screapers, who live in the sea but occasionally come inland to chow down on some human flesh. The story is in equal parts uninspiring, clichÃ©d and stupid.
It doesn’t get much better when you move onto your first fight. The combat system is an unwieldy fudge. Part turn-based and part real-time, it’s never possible to get into the coherent rhythm of a real-time system in the mold of Final Fantasy XII, nor is it possible to hit the strategic depth of a turn-based system akin to Persona 3.
You pick up people to help you on your way, but the AI is supremely stupid. Sure, you have the option of controlling all the characters at once, but it’s a nightmare, with characters getting in the way of each other. It’s less tactical and more logistical, with you struggling to find routes to physically hit the bad guys through the terrain and mess of characters.
You can’t even take solace in nice graphics. The world is incredibly dull, and the character animations flat, jerky and lifeless. However, the almost static, large character portraits used on menus and during dialogue are nice and colourful, if a bit unoriginal – big, spiky hair for the boys, massive tits for the girls.
It’s not all negative, though. The magic system is nice, and the music is suitably sweeping, plus it’s well put together. It’s all just so uninspiring and clunky. If you really like your RPGs, or want to spend over 40 hours in a catatonic state, it might be worth a go, just don’t expect to see anything you haven’t seen before. “…”