“The Tenth Line” refers to a line of text found in a scripture predicting the end of the world. When your party of would-be heroes join the fray, the 6th Line has just come to pass and the world – a fantasy realm where humans and beastmen live, more or less, in harmony – is in an uproar. The tale revolves around your best of three: a princess, a kobold by the name of Rik, and a dark dracomage name Tox–plus any support characters your recruit . Your quest as princess of the faraway land of Easania is to return home, but you’re soon swept up in something much more complicated, and world ending.
The Tenth Line is presented in side scroller fashion: a 2D environment in which you can move to the left and right through a series of interconnected rooms. While the map may not be as intricate as the webs found in metroidvania titles, the game does have pickups for you to collected as you traverse. In order to proceed, however, you have to bring all three character to the exit. You can swap between each character using the L1 and R1 buttons–which causes the controller light to change, according to the character, a little attention to detail that I loved!–and control each character individually. The game gives you an auto-follow option, but unfortunately it’s pretty useless unless you’re moving a short distance without any change in incline.
It can become tedious to traverse the same terrain three times, but the game mitigates that somewhat be adding obstacles that can only be surmounted by using teamwork, The Princess can push heavy objects and has a long jump, Rik can hit objects from afar with his knives and has a longer jump and Tox can breathe an element, depending on what he’s eaten, and has a high, but short jump. These three strengths and weaknesses synergize and make it seem as though you have to move all three not simply because that’s how the game is designed, but because the group is stronger as a whole.
Enemies are visible on the map and coming into contact with one will start a battle if for whatever reason you had one character strike out on his or her own, you’ll find yourself in bad spot because a number of turns, based on how far your ally is from you, must pass before they can aid you. If an enemy strikes you first you will be ambushed and they get the first turn. If you strike them first, you will start on equal ground, but if you strike them from behind, you will not only go first, you’ll also have an extra turn before enemy reinforcements join the initial squad.
Combat is turn based and the attacks available to you are displayed in card from. Abilities require SP to be used and go on cooldown for a number of turns after they are used. You command characters to attack using their correspond face buttons and they can also guard during the enemy’s turn. Your support characters can assist you basedon bars that fill up when you do damage. They have a primary attack and a powerful secondary attack, both of which are keyed to R1/2 and L1/2 depending on which side they are assigned to. Stringing together combos using the face buttons results in the momentum bar filling up, which in turn effects how much SP you regenerate at the end of your turn.
Where the game really shines is its character customization. Each character has a weapon which can be levelled up by using items you find or buy during your travels. A weapons maximum level can be raised by completing story mission and treasure hunts and found in chests. The game also utilizes a “Power Flow” chart, not unlike the node system used in Final Fantasy, where you place items on a grid in order to increase character stats. Item rarity indicates how large your stat boost will be and placing it on a tile of the same color will give you a bonus. Tiles need to be connected with lines and you are free to unlock stats and new skills as you see fit just as long as your line leads from the source to the tile in question. You are able to place a new item every time your character levels up and replacing an item doesn’t cost an additional skill point.
Also of note is the way the game handles stores–or rather, the lack thereof. Instead, it has a menu where the pixel art is gorgeous. The world is vibrant, it’s denizen’s, humans, and beastmen alike. Most of the locations are shallow, serving as a pretty background where only a specific building can be entered because it is a part of the story, which detracts from the thin veneer of believability. Still, the areas that CAN be explored are worthwhile as they’ll hide items and weapon level for your party. The music is also nice to listen to.
There’s also a card game available called Quad Pro Quo, for those who like those sorts of things. Like Tetra Master from FFIX, you simply have to have the card with the higher numbers on the edge facing an opponent’s card and you’ll flip that card over as your own. The person with the most cards wins. While this momentary distraction from combat and exploration isn’t mandatory, playing it will win you cards and help you net a shiny gold trophy for collecting all of them. Opponents can be found around the world.
- A fairly compact RPG experience that mixes elements from side scrollers & puzzle platformers
- The world is interesting, though shallow
- The levelling – up system allows for tailoring gameplay
- An interesting cast of character and stor
- Difficulty spikes during boss fights. Poor scaling
- Battle becomes tedious. The “us against the world” aspect bogs things down especially since most of your attacks don’t hit multiple targets.
The game is definitely worth a look if you’re into RPGs. While it may not give you the 20+ hours of a standard RPG, the interesting story and in-depth character customization elements will keep your interest from start to finish.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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