Greetings! And welcome to another installment of RPG reviews! Today I’ll be covering one of the better jRPGs to grace the shelves, and arguably the best game to have been localized by NISAmerica – Ar Tonelico Qoga : Knell of Ar Ciel.
Now, I must urge all would-be players to avoid spoilers at all costs. The game is best played without the help of any guides or prior knowledge of the plot or story. This means not reading the following review either. However, there is one special exception that I’ll cover in gameplay which I urge all players to read.
That said, why exactly am I singing its praise?
Once again, allow me to examine the target demographic. This game might not be intended for you if the following apply:
- You are under 17. This game is rated Mature by ESRB.
- You have no idea who or what a Tsundere is or means. (It’s a rather common term used in Ar Tonelico Qoga for which explanation is not provided.)
- You have zero tolerance for fanservice. Some of which are caused exclusively by your own polluted mind.
Just in case you didn’t get it the first time: This review contains spoilers. While I try to keep them to a minimum, you might still discover some stuff you don’t intend to.
Now, let’s take a look at the characters. They managed to rope in quite the stellar cast of voice actors and actresses; I am of course referring to the Japanese voices. Just do a mouse-over if you don’t know the other character. 🙂
In Ar Tonelico Qoga (ATQ), you’ve got quite the large cast of characters. The good news is, there are next to no characters of the stormtrooper archetype, and everyone introduced plays a significant part in the overall plot. You’ll definitely be able to identify with most (if not all) of them by the end of the game.
Aoto (V.A. Sugiyama Noriaki)
It’s amazing how closely Aoto resembles the other character played by his VA (more so than moody Sasuke). Both are good at making and repairing stuff, both like to help others,
both have a harem. The main protagonist, Aoto’s a steeplejack raised by his boss, a father-figure to him. A hero with a boring life cannot be considered a hero, so in comes…
Saki (V.A. Gotou Mai)
Sucky Saki, your damsel in distress. She gets kidnapped so many times it probably sets a new record. Aoto will save her time and again, but she manages to get (re)captured somehow. She’s like a child trapped in a child’s body (wait what am I saying), and believes in a violence-free approach to resolving issues (and you know what they say about diplomacy in games). She has a big problem though…
…In the form of a multiple personality disorder. In her case though, these personalities are all individuals of their own, the only exception is they share one body. They play a big role in ATQ, which I’ll leave for you to find out. 😉
If you are ever nearly driven insane by Saki (like me), fret not. In comes princess no. 2, Finnel. She may be clumsy, a trait she does not willingly admit to, but her dark past might put you in an emotional state of disrepair. Her ending is the one I (first) attained, and the plot that takes place in her cosmosphere is as polished as any other good visual novel routes out there.
Hikari Gojo (V.A. Morikawa Toshiyuki)
When you have patients with problems as serious as our two ladies (who are BOTH ultra-rare cases previously unheard of), you’re gonna need a proficient reyvatologist (basically Doctor) to care for them in case they go bonkers. That’s where Gojo comes in.
He’s also the only Vanguard in your party that has a semi-ranged attack. Not that the Vanguards’ attacks actually matter. But it does make 3-on-1 situations a little less hectic since he doesn’t get blocked as often.
Tatsumi (V.A. Saiga Mitsuki)
These two look (and feel) uncannily alike, almost like a nod to the VA’s other role. Aoto befriended him since he was the only other person of similar age in his village. Tatsumi might have a cold exterior, but is passionate about V-boarding, a sport unique to ATQ (whose jargon is alien to Aoto). Like all characters of his archetype, he also has a few secrets…
Cocona Bartel (V.A. Shimura Yumi)
She’s a return character from Ar Tonelico 2, and her story picks up right after the end of the PS2 game, so you might be a little lost if you haven’t played the prequel. Long story short, she travelled from her previous tower to this one under the request of the reyvateil origin Jacqli (aka Mir) to deliver the Heart of Gaea to Harvestasha, an administrator of the tower. Have I lost you? No worries, the game does a decent job explaining the circumstances.
Akane (V.A. Endou Aya)
Sheryl is not voiced by May’n. Akane is a 17 year old supreme commander of the Clustanian forces (see law #23 and #42), and a childhood friend of Finnel’s. She is fiercely loyal to Clustania, and starts off as one of the main antagonists, until the lines start to blur…
Gengai (V.A. Genda Tesshō)
Gengai is the leader of the resistance faction (which essentially puts him at loggerheads with Akane), and one of the few adults you’ll come across in ATQ. Gengai’s also someone Tatsumi calls ‘master’, as it is he who taught Tatsumi V-boarding.
There are plenty more characters who will play equally important roles, but further introductions would mean giving away too much. Up next, gameplay~