January to March is always a super busy time for me, but a couple of weeks ago I had finished one of the many, many games in my back catalogue and thought to myself, “I haven’t reviewed a game in a while (Sorry J), I’ll check the board and see if anything takes my fancy”.
I opened Rise of the Third Power and saw ‘RPG’ the first hook was in. In the past I’ve been a bit of a self-confessed ‘AAA’ snob, not because I didn’t want to play games like Rise of the Third Power, but because I feared not liking them, which, I know, may sound strange but that also went doubly for reviewing those games as well.
I’ve also always been worried that I may not be able to appreciate the work that went into making games like Rise of the Third Power and deliver an underwhelming ‘not for me’ style review. Well, I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone because SPOILER ALERT, it’s a fantastic game!
I’m a big fan of J/RPGs; Final Fantasy VIII is my GOAT, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Ni No Kuni…the list is long…and Rise of the Third Power will now be joining that list, so let me break it down for you.
Developed by Stegosoft games and publish by DANGEN entertainment, Rise of the Third Power is a retro-themed, console-style roleplaying game, loosely based on the political climate of Europe in the late 1930’s. The story takes place in the land of Rin during the height of the Age of Sail, following the events that would lead to the greatest war in human history. The main story is cliché and predictable enough as you start with a relatively small (well not quite small, you are kidnapping a princess after all) suicidal mission which then eventually cascades into a potential worldwide event.
Sometimes cliché is ok though, especially when you have characters written as well as these guys, Rise of the Third Power has 7 chapters in all and on your journey you will eventually have 8 party members. Thankfully, they don’t all join at once, so you can appreciate and invest in their individual journeys. The main protagonist is a pirate (ex-pirate) called Rowan, who thankfully is very likeable and gels really well with his bestie Corrina, which is vital for the early part of the game as these are the first two you are in charge of.
Combat is turn based, and each character has different ways of fighting, whether it be crowd control, damage over time or just plain old sword slashing and canon fire. The graphics are a throwback to the SNES days with their 16-bit offering however I found the combat animations to be sublime, especially the special moves. Whether it was the first or the one hundredth time of seeing them, they never got old. Each character can unlock combo moves with other members of the party which all vary as well, from dealing heavy damage to buffing your party. The combat system has got you covered whichever way you want to play.
You can only select 3 to go into a fight, but fear not you can switch out in battle. However, you can switch up to 3 times so this adds an additional layer of thinking to how you want to approach your map battles to your boss battles, there are no random map encounters so you have to go looking for fights if you want to level up (the map battles can be reset so you don’t have to worry about running out of enemies to grind if you so wish!), which I suggest you do as the boss battles can be tricky!
Speaking of levelling up, the experience you gain from battles levels up the whole team rather than individuals which is great as it doesn’t mean you have to spend additional time levelling characters who may not be your favourite (looking at you Rashim). Each character has a skill tree of course, so you must choose your abilities wisely as you only get a certain amount of ability points when you level up.
Now I’m about to express my love for a feature in the game which will certainly cause controversy and a few hot collars amongst the “get good” community, and that feature is what I like to call the ‘Story mode button’. What is the story mode button I hear you ask? Well the ‘story mode button’ is an option that lets you instantly win a battle, a one hit KO in other words. It’s only available in story mode difficulty, and as we’re seeing more and more accessibility in games these days and I’d like to think a feature like this should come standard in all RPG’s(or games in general – ed). It also adds more longevity to a game if the second time around you want to complete it, you can just sit back and enjoy the story without having to worry about grinding or tough boss battles.
With any RPG type games though there is always a few bugbears. I’m sure you’ve all seen the Resident Evil meme where they have to find a key to the gate because they can’t step over a one foot fence. Well, in this instance when you’re walking through one of the desert maps, you can’t walk over a bump in the sand, which can get frustrating at points as you can only move in up, down, left, right movements.
Lastly, soundtracks can potentially make or break a video game; The Rise of the Third Power soundtrack is SUPERB! I love a good video game soundtrack, and this is one I can certainly envisage myself listening to on a long journey to work. There is a noticeable loop, but it never outstays its welcome, and fits each scene and mood perfectly!
If Rise of the Third Power was a ‘AAA’ game, critics would be shouting from the roof top telling you to play this game, so this is me SHOUTING FROM THE ROOF TOP, telling you to go play Rise of the Third Power! It’s only April but I’d be surprised if any game released this year knocks this off my number one spot for game of the year.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.