Story & World
When I first saw the title screen, with its stylized bloody and bold warrior logo stamped into solid granite, I thought I was in for a post-apocalyptic, beyond Thunderdome kinda game. After the first few minutes, that changed into a primitive, barbarian tribe kinda feel (what with all the chief talk and not owning shirts). When the cycles and buggies came, I thought "Oh, I was right, it is Mad Max." Then the ending came and switched it back to barbarians. What a roller coaster ride! Minus 10 points.
I really like it when games keep track of the seasons and update their tiles accordingly. Not only is the visual change appreciated, it keeps me on the lookout for possible changes in places I've already been (great for when I'm grinding anyway). Here, it only seemed to come into play when crossing the swamplands, but still, new tiles.
NPCs got a little better at being useful after the terrible first town but were still mostly devoid of personality (as is the norm). The most lively fellow was that prisoner guard that begged me to spare his life after I reduced him to zero hit points with the back of my hand. My battle companions, though introduced as pretty unique and interesting characters, rarely said anything and were not developed any further. I actually don't mind having blank slates in most cases as it allows me to just do my own thang. I didn't need a pic for Orbis; he became a writhing mass of tentacles with a huge, unblinking eye floating in the center all on his own. The game probably thought nothing of it when it killed off the majority of my characters in such a lame way, since it never bothered to care about them in the first place, but it kinda pissed me off. 7/20
Three main stats (Attack, Defense, Speed) which increase in small amounts per level along with HP. All characters level the same, making them almost completely identical, stat-wise. Attack and Defense stats are mainly driven by weapons and armour which actually lends more credence to the equipment-important post-apocalypse setting. Adding further to that, there are only a few different types of purchasable weapons and armour, perhaps two or three for each slot (weapon, armour, shield, accessory). The unique, extremely powerful pieces of equipment were likewise low in numbers (~4 for the whole game). The King's sword and armour found near the beginning stayed equipped on me the entire time. Just like in any good post-apoc, equipment is just as, if not more, important than the character utilizing it. In keeping with the scarcity theme, consumables consisted of the healing Troops (still confused on that one) and Herbs (which I don't know what they did). 6/20
Combat & Monsters
Being able to choose up to four characters from a party roster is great until one realizes that all the characters are pretty much the same, except for the two which get the great equipment. Combat is strictly melee-based button-mashing, and the addition of an auto-combat option was very much appreciated. Though I have to say, that if developers feel they need to include automatic combat, perhaps they should just work on making combat more interesting. Monsters were likewise restricted to punches and kicks, even bosses didn't have special abilities. The strategy portions were a nice attempt but ultimately failed to provide enough depth to be worth it. Lazy and boring for both types of encounters. 3/20
Graphics & Sound
For all its lack in the other categories, man, do I ever like the shading style the monsters are done in; it looks like actual effort was applied here. There aren't that many different types of monsters but I'd rather have a few beautiful pieces to look at than a slew of crappy ones. The rest of the graphics are alright, although a few palaces were a little hard on the eyes. Bonus for the four seasonal tilesets. Music is subpar, with unmemorable tunes punctuated by annoying high-pitched bullshit. 9/20
Cash flow had a couple of bumps along the way but nothing too major. I ended up with lots of extra money due to having to wait from spring to winter in order to cross the swamps, but lost a good chunk of that when I was forced to surrender in the final tactical battle.
Not being able to manage my vast armies was really annoying but the interface sucked in more ways than just that. Item management was also lacking in basic support; it was easy enough to move weapons and armour from character to character but impossible for anything else. This meant that the first few characters would have all the quest and healing items while the rest carried nothing. Throw in some translation error gobbledygook for good measure and you're left with one of the sloppiest interfaces I've ever come across.
Thankfully, all these annoyances never reach the boiling point as the game is quite short. Chalk up yet another translated JRPG that was originally not released in NA and for good reason. 4/20
Final Ranking: 29/100