Eternal Poison

 
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Product Description

The world descended into chaos the day the demonic realm of Besek appeared. Creatures known as the Majin emerged, wreaking havoc and destroying everyone's way of life. They captured the Princess of Valdia and imprisoned her in their lair. Now, brave adventurers throughout the land have set out to explore the Majin homeland. Some wish to rescue the princess; some seek fame and glory; some merely want revenge. However, there are those who look to harness the Majin's dark powers, for it is rumored that deep within Besek lies the Eternal Poison, a legendary treasure able to make your deepest desires come true. Travel the paths of some of these adventurers, and as their tales unfold, you will discover the true meanings of romance, heroism, madness, despair, and betrayal...

Features:
  • Every copy of Eternal Poison is a special two-disk set which includes a soundtrack CD featuring 25 beautiful compositions from the games score
  • Gorgeous dark fantasy world laden with gothic themes, a twisted fairy tale full of black magic,white magic and treasure
  • Walk the winding path of five different characters in this strategy RPG in search of legendary Eternal Poison
  • Capture and collect demons to work with you or add their skills to your arsenal

Customer Reviews:

  • Beautiful graphics, somewhat clumbersome mechanics
    Others have already gushed about the graphics, so I'll skip to the gameplay. Compared to many other RPGs, this one can feel very limited in what you can do. There's basically no actual exploration, you basically go through a series of dungeons and try to kill all the monsters present. There's a few branches where you can choose which dungeon to advance to next, but that's about it. While this basically means there isn't a "grind" per se, it does mean you might have trouble dealing with later enemies if you didn't level sufficiently in previous dungeons. There also isn't the usual menu most people expect in RPGs that let them set equipment and such. You also can't save in the middle of a dungeon. This and a few other small details can make the entire thing feel rather cumbersome, so it definitely isn't for everyone. However, that doesn't mean the game can't be fun. The battles do force you to be rather creative/conservative, especially after getting mobbed the third time and having your entire party slaughtered.

    This game can be fun, just know what you're getting into....more info
  • Disappointing
    When it comes to Atlus RPG's on the PS2, I've enjoyed a fair amount. For some reason, I didn't think Eternal Poison would be any different, but sadly, I was wrong. Maybe it's because I've been spoiled by the last couple Shin Megami Tensei: Persona games to come out on the PS2, but I had kind of high hopes for Eternal Poison. The biggest flaw about the game is that it's just boring. Between the grid-based battles and capturing your opponents and putting them to use, it's all been done before, and done much better to boot. The game's unappealing animations and graphic models don't do much better either. I know this is a late-in-life PS2 game, but the system is much more capable of doing better than what you see here. Not to mention the overly generic look of the game to boot. Still, Eternal Poison does have some good points about it. The art style is great, and the number of different paths you can take in just one play through the game's story is a nice touch, and there's secrets to find as well. However, the game's boring battle system kills much of the enjoyment that you can have with the game, and the long load times don't help matters either. All in all, Eternal Poison may be worth a look at best, but as far as RPG strategy games on the PS2 go, you can do much, much better....more info
  • ...well, at least it's pretty.
    I enjoy gothic RPGs immensely, and when Atlus first announced the localization of this title, I was intrigued: intrigued enough to go searching for more information, to find videos of the gameplay, and even to read the reviews of the game that had been posted at Amazon.co.jp. The Japanese reviews were fairly universally negative, running pretty uniformly along the lines of "interesting concept, and very pretty, but poorly executed." However, my tastes run to games that are a bit out of the ordinary, and from what I saw praised in the reviews, I decided that this game would be worth the pre-order, especially since the pre-order package came with a soundtrack disc and artbook extra.

    I must put a disclaimer here before I go further: I haven't actually quite finished any of the storylines; I have come close in one, and explored the other two available upon first starting the game to some extent, and have had ample time to experience the gameplay; but, do take my assessment of things such as plot and character with a coarse grain of salt.

    Now that I've played the game, I have to say that I agree entirely with the Japanese reviews that I read. It does have a nice concept, even if not particularly unique, and it is very pretty. It's also extremely poorly executed. Let's start with the basic gameplay.


    I like the idea of an RPG without "Free Battle," to borrow a term from the Japanese reviews. That is to say, a system where the only battles are those which move you forward in the plot. I don't dislike random encounter-based RPGs, by any stretch, but a game where you only have a set number of fights, and thus a set amount of experience to earn, is an interesting challenge, usually. Eternal Poison, however, suffers from it; I'll explain, but first I should explain more about the mechanics.

    Your world revolves around a single town, which serves as a home base. There are only four places to visit in this town: the bar, where you can play the one mini-game that Eternal Poison has to offer--which is just the Solitaire board game. The bartender, like the other town residents you'll find, has snippets of useless information to tell you, that changes to reflect your position in the plotline. The bar also features the stage of a band, where you can change the background music of the town to any of an extremely limited selection of pieces which this band can play; for each band member you rescue from the depths of the demon-infested wilderness, you obtain one new song that can be played. You can also visit the Majin shop--the monsters in this game are referred to as Majin. Here you can buy Majin to use in your party, or you can sell those that you have captured, which is really the only efficient way to make sufficient money to fund a full party of seven active characters; you can also extract various abilities from the Majin, or points with which you can summon the Majin that you decide to retain to battle: points that you earn much more easily simply killing enemies, making that another pointless option. You could also visit the "Uzaporium," where an elderly Koona (Koonas are the game's "cute" mascot, which are little more than pygmy bears in varicolored scarves) will sell and buy equipment. There is a far greater need to buy weaponry than armor, and you'll find yourself getting new weapons after nearly every fight, while you'll only need to buy new armor once in a blue moon. If you have plenty of money to waste, there are even overpriced accessories with various, mostly useless effects. You can also buy your basic supplies here--recovery items, etc.--but make sure to move these out of storage before leaving town, or you may find yourself in a pinch in battle. The final place to visit is the inn, where, oddly enough, you can't heal--since you're restored to full health automatically after battle. There are a number of things that you can do at the inn, most of which you can also do in the pre-battle menu. The noteworthy features unique to the inn are the ability to read your bestiary of the monsters you've encountered and talk to the refugees (people who you've rescued from the wilds of Besek). The former is made more or less moot by the fact that you can access it (in a more difficult fashion, admittedly) in the Majin shop, as well as having full access to the complete status of any enemy on the field in battle at any time you feel like; while the latter is, for the most part, fairly tedious. Some of the refugees will move on quickly, while some will stay in the inn for quite an extended period of time, with something new to say at you after each battle. Some will give you items or weapons, which tend to become useless after another battle or two. They will also have a few voiced words that will be repeated, to irritating effect, occasionally as you read through what they actually have to say. You can also recruit new party members, who will not appear at all in the story, among the various "mercenaries" gathered in the town. Despite their profession, you don't actually ever have to pay them, and many of them, unsurprisingly, are entirely useless. I'm starting to notice a trend here, are you?

    But enough of town. On to battle. The plot progresses as you make your winding way through Besek--I say winding, but in truth it's actually fairly straightforward. You have some options of which way you want to go at forks in the road, but all roads lead to the same destination, and all with the same number of steps. I haven't tried replaying any of the storylines yet, but I believe that the cutscenes may vary somewhat based on the path you choose; however, I doubt it's in any significant way. You make your way through stages, each stage progressing you farther into the heart of Besek. Each stage is composed of one battle, and you can't repeat any stages, or go backwards in any way. In other words, the game is about as linear as you could possibly imagine. Before starting each stage, you can set your party up, take a look at the topography, and see the mission requirements, which are virtually always "kill all enemies/the boss, and if the main character dies you lose." The last part isn't much of a problem since the main character of each storyline is the most unbalanced in any party, making him/her the most useful character you have, which means that he/she will probably end up getting the most experience, making him/her that much more useful, thereby enforcing the cycle. By the end, unless you deliberately spend time making sure this doesn't happen, your non-story characters will be completely useless. It seems to be better to simply not use any from the get-go, so that your main party members can get as much experience as possible (since there's only so much to be had, after all).

    After you're done setting up, you can start the battle, which will lead to a cutscene, where angst will occur. More of that when I get to plot. You cannot skip the cutscene, so the only thing you can do if you've already seen it is mash the X button to speed through the dialogue until it's over. After the cutscene, you start the actual battle. Usually you'll start with some further dialogue between the characters and the Majin, and you'll occasionally get more snippets of dialogue as turns progress. Battle itself, at least if you fight more defensively, as I tend to, is very long and drawn-out. It's a tactics RPG, of course, meaning that you'll be progressing across the field in order to defeat your enemies. The best way to win is to target one or two Majin at a time, and throw all your characters at it/them, hoping that you don't take any casualties, since there's no way to revive a character in battle. This can be a fairly long, drawn out process when most of the Majin on the field have better stats all-around than the majority of your characters, and since they typically won't start moving toward you unless they can attack you immediately after moving. This strategy tends to drag battles out for quite a while, which, except for taking a long time in real time, isn't actually all that bad, with one exception: if you don't reach some boss characters within a set number of turns, they'll decide you aren't worth their time, run away, and then the battle will be over; this is very, very annoying for a defensive player. Spells and abilities, rather than using skill or magic points, have a set number of uses per battle, which are impossible to replenish until after the battle is complete. The experience distribution is actually decently even, with offensive mage-type units and range-type units both being able to accrue roughly as much experience as brawlers, making the units that can use both good magic and fight effectively at close quarters the best; the only type of unit that suffers from a lack of experience are support mage-types, though even they can make experience every time they use a spell. The system in general is solid, but generic, for a tactics RPG. Aside from capturing defeated Majin (which, thanks to the Overkill system, which sometimes requires that you deal a very considerable amount of damage in your final blow to the enemy, can be trying), and the ability to summon them to battle (which is generally useless, since your main characters level faster than your captured majin can keep up), there's really not much that stands out. The most interesting feature is that on the main character's turn, any characters who didn't act in their previous turn can be commanded to act during that turn, without pushing their next turn back at all, and without usurping the main character's turn, which can be used for strategy of an actually fair depth. All in all, if you play defensively, you can expect each battle to take a minimum of an hour, without the ability to save, making gameplay tedious, and leaving the plot feeling short in comparison, while eating up a lot of time.

    Oh, one last note: there's a feature which will show you a mini-cutscene, in 3D graphics, your character performing whatever action you command him to immediately after doing so. These are repetitive, and take an absurd amount of time to load. Turn this feature off in the options menu to save yourself some tedium after seeing it the first few times. It's kinda cool up until the hundred-thousandth time you see your character poke an enemy with his sword.

    So, in overview, what you'll be doing in the game is this: Go to town, sell your Majin/extract abilities from them, buy new equipment, sell old equipment, talk to your refugees, leave town, prepare for battle, watch a cutscene, start battle, slowly make your way across the field to kill and capture enemies, and then go back to town again. The gameplay is extremely repetitive, to the point where random encounters would actually be a reprieve. I can spend two or more hours at a time doing nothing but leveling in Persona 3, but I can't do more than a battle at a time in this game without getting really bored.



    On to something more positive: the graphics and music.

    The art is really quite nice; all the artists are very skilled, I like most of their art styles, and they, for the most part, make good character designs. One of the artists that I actually follow online contributed to the game, actually. Eternal Poison is, in short, very, very pretty. The computer graphics are wonderfully done, proving that the PS2 still stands up pretty well, and, while the sprites could be somewhat better animated, they, too, are nice. Even the mini-cutscenes of attacks are quite nice, though they are repetitious and take too long to load. The only critical thing I can find to say about the game, graphically, is that, in the fully rendered 3D cutscenes, the way that female faces come across is creepy, even where it isn't supposed to be. I've seen 3D characters with the oversized anime-style eyes that work, but these don't. Otherwise, I have nothing but good things to say about the art in this game.

    The music actually one-ups the art. The soundtrack disc that comes with the game is in fact one of my favorite things to listen to nowadays; it's got a very nicely gothic feel to it, and it's very well executed. It's beautiful where it needs to be, cool where it wants to be, and just overall shows the skill and creativity of the composer. It even fits the style of the world to a T.

    I would recommend getting this game just for the artbook and soundtrack alone, if you could still get both by ordering it new, but the artbook was only included in the pre-order bonus, I believe.


    Finally, plot and characters: There may be some spoilers, so watch out, but I'll be trying to keep those to a minimum, since I haven't actually quite finished any of the storylines yet.

    The plot of all the storylines starts with the sudden appearance of a mythical area called Besek, where Majin, demonic monsters that eat people, wander freely and in great number. Shortly after this, the princess of the kingdom where the story is centered disappears, and the king, in his grief, offers to give anything the rescuer wants to whomever is brave enough to go find the princess. Peculiarly enough, only one of the three main storylines picks up on the disappeared princess as a major plot element from the beginning--Olifen, the commander of the Valdian Knights, betrothed to the princess, and complete wuss leads an absurdly small team (four people, including himself), into Besek without approval to find his fianc¨¦. How romantically trite. The other two parties, one led by a priestess looking for her mentor, who has disappeared into Besek, the other led by a mysterious fourteen year old girl who travels around with a Majin and dresses like a prostitute, seem entirely unconcerned by the news that the only child of the leader of their nation has disappeared into a monster's den. It is said that the "Eternal Poison" (if you think that sounds stupid, it was "Poison Pink" in the original Japanese), an item rumored to be able to grant any desire, is hidden somewhere deep in Besek's heart.

    I've played Olifen's storyline the most, since it seemed to be the worst of the lot, in an effort to get it out of the way first; so I'll be referring primarily to this storyline from here on.

    The characters are, in this storyline, on the annoying side. Olifen is a traditional whiny, self-doubting leader, who is entirely unsuited to lead; this is to say, he's a complete incompetent who panics at the slightest impetus, and who doesn't care a whit about his subordinates. He also seems to think the fastest way to find the princess involves getting his party and himself killed as quickly as possible, rather than taking the time to think. At all. His subordinates include Logue, his best friend and fellow knight, who was far more favored to succeed as commander than poor, bitchy Sir Olifen, until he went to slay a dragon, who was apparently also a majin, and got himself cursed in the process; Marie, a mage, and the only somewhat sensible, level-headed member of the group, who is alway arguing with Olifen because she's twice the man that he is and would probably actually be a semi-competent leader; and Levatte the priest, a cowardly, wet behind the ears kid who is apparently the pope's personal prot¨¦g¨¦ and spy, and is certainly-not-only-traveling-with-Olifen-to-keep-tabs-and-find-the-Eternal-Poison-for-the-Pope.

    As they venture deeper into Besek, the internal strife rises as Olifen becomes more desperate, Logue's curse starts to manifest more clearly, and Levatte cowers in terror every time a Majin comes within fifty yards of him; and the situation becomes ever more confused as what seems to be the Princess snubs Olifen, the King, not nearly so grief-stricken as one previously was led to suppose, plots with the Count whose land Besek appeared in, and a supposedly long-dead hero comes out of nowhere to tell Olifen what a whiny little baby he is. Predictable drama and trite angst ensue.

    What I've seen of the other storylines is significantly better, but still not very good for the most part. The characters are more likeable, but the drama is no less predictable, and the angst no less trite.

    The English voice acting is, for the most part, on the tolerable side of painful; the voice actors themselves aren't bad, but the direction is terrible; and, as with most games, the Japanese voiceovers are unavailable for a comparison.



    To review: the gameplay is solid, but extremely tedious, and the story doesn't help to hold your interest for long. The graphics are good, and the music is amazing, but these alone don't make the game worth buying. If you're a big fan of Tactics RPGs or gothic-inspired worlds, you may like it enough to play it, but for your own sake, rent it before buying....more info
  • First thoughts on Eternal Poison
    I'm sure everyone here can relate to the feeling of following a game, anticipating it's release, and then peeling back the plastic wrap to pop in a new game? Yeah? Well I pre ordered this game months ago, because I had been completely wrapped up in the art style and dark and twisted story line. Now, I'd also like to say that the whole strategy role playing game or tactical rpg or whatever aspects intimidated me. Because this is my first venture into this genre. So I was very weary, and overwhelmed with the notion and premise of the game play...

    I'm kinda slow in the intelligents department, and organizing huge stratagies and attacks, well.. It's not really my thing, or so I thought. Eternal Poison is surprisingly user friendly, and the tutorial was much needed, and very helpful, so those who are a little turned off by the srpg genre, I say if you can find a copy of this game take a chance, it's worth it. The one complaint I have so far would have to be the battle animations, which if any of you have been following this game, know you can simply turn them off, and the battles are quick and engaging. And exploiting weaknesses is loads of fun, and combination attacks are so satisfactory when pulled off successfully.

    What I know of the story so far is from Thage and Raki's pov, and it's the most appealing to me at this point. I'm sure once completing their tale I'll jump right back in with the other stories and find out all the ins and outs of Eternal Poison.

    Last thoughts, I just wanted to give some praise to this game, and as the first review stated above, it's a gem, and worthy in any rpg collection, I for one do not regret in anyway picking this game up.

    Dal....more info
  • A good strategy rpg
    This is definitely a good game for those that love strategy rpg's. My first game in this genre was Vandal Hearts. Ever since then I have been addicted to them. Yes, I also enjoy many other types like sports, action, and the more standard rpg's. However, I still must say these types of games are my favorites.

    For those looking for more of a dark story than many of the other srpg's on the market, this is the game for you. Many other series are more cartoony. Disgaea is a good example of this. I do enjoy that series as well, but its nice having a darker themed game.

    I have read some reviews complaining about load times. You can turn off the battle scenes between units. Myself, I have not felt the load times to severe.

    The only reason I give this game a 4 in the Fun rating is because of the lack of in game battle saves. This game is tough at times and having that feature would have been nice.

    This game has good replay value because there are 3 different main characters. You select the one you want to play at the start of the game.

    If you are a fan of strategy games, get this game. One reason I loved Vandal Hearts 1 and 2 so much was because of the more adult theme and story. For someone like me who loves srpgs, it was (and is) a breath of fresh air playing Eternal Poison....more info
  • Great Presentation, So-So Gameplay
    As one of the most recent Playstation 2 games (released late 2008), Eternal Poison arguably the best art style and presentation of any game out on the Playstation 2. From the anime style character portraits to the 3d environments and excellent music the game is 10's across the board for presentation. However gameplay is plagued from lots of loading screens (you can turn them off and do on-map animations but they are not nearly as impressive) and one of the main storylines gives you no direction. There is a lot of replayablility with multiple paths and up to five storylines and the stories are intriguing but game is no Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea....more info
  • Horrible Load Time
    the load time during battles, in between battles, just in general is horrible. It makes the game damn near impossible to play....more info
  • Eternal Poison can be eternal fun
    I purchased this game for my son as a Christmas present. He LOVES it! He has been disappointed by many of the other RPG games for PS2 but is crazy about this one. He's already played it through 5 times and is on his 6th game!! The battle system is like FF Tactics. The system for obtaining weapons, skills, etc. is through capturing enemies and selling them. The graphics are good. What my son really loves is that the playthrough isn't extremely lengthy, so you can play multiple times with multiple parties, exploring different "paths" each time which keeps it new and exciting even after you've played it a few time. If you like wandering around for hours randomly fighting you may not like this game. Otherwise, I'd suggest you give it a try if you like RPG's. My son says the storylines are ok, too. One of best we've bought for a while and we buy quite a lot. Hope this helps prospective buyers....more info
  • Beautiful, but sometimes a bit stiff
    If you like "tactics" games & gothic / manga art - then you should own this game, and probably already do.

    It has some interesting / innovative mechanics - I like capturing the beasties and then either using them as summons in later battles, or grinding out their powers and abilities for my other characters. I like the alternate starting characters / plots.

    I don't like when things are quite so linear, though it does break things up a little sometimes. Maybe I'm just not far enough into the game to really see it yet? I'm a perfectionist, I like to go back and get everything, this game doesn't really allow it... so I keep going back to savegames to make sure I get everything on a level. Which brings me to my one, big, but petty, complaint:

    I haaaaate dialogue you can't fast skip past.

    Haaaaaate.


    But - aside from that, I'm having fun playing this game. The combat is interesting and challenging to optimize without feeling too unforgiving and perfectionist (though, I might edit this review if later levels prove me wrong).

    Of course, well, pretty helps. And it is pretty. Both eye and ear candy (the included soundtrack and concept art is nice)....more info
  • eternal poison
    as far as PS2 games go, this is probably my 2nd favorite rpg game. this is a pretty fun game. you can pick from 3 groups of characters and recruit some along the way. i haven't beaten it yet so thats all i can tell you....more info
  • maybe if I were younger
    I must admit, my time playing this game was very short.

    I most often play games for a fun immersion in an intriguing world, and Eternal Poison did not provide that for me.

    Looks-wise, the game is fairly bland without the attack cutscenes, which take what seems an eternity to load for maybe five seconds of action. Therefore, both the best and worst thing one can do is to turn them off.
    The map sprites are made from low-detail 3D renders, and appear untouched from there, thus are muddy and bland.

    The flow of battle is a bit confusing, especially the delay/chain attacks.

    Voices did not strike me either way as being good or horrible. The included Soundtrack is serviceable, a nice medieval MIDI sort of rendition. Easily the most accessible, enjoyable part of this game.

    IN SUMMARRY: You may find much more enjoyable Tactics games for your dollar. I only played two battles, and was relying on the game to engage me with humor and likeable characters, which I was unable to find. I needed to cull games from of my ever-growing pile, and as such this one was prime for the chopping block. Maybe if I were 13 again, or it this game had come out much earlier, it would have been regarded better by such as myself.

    Even Better Games of this type: Final Fantasy Tactics, FFT Advance/A2, any Disgaea game....more info
  • Definately Poisonous
    In my many years of videogame playing I have beaten quite a few games that weren't alot of fun or were flawed in some manner that took away from having fun playing the game. Eternal Poison runs along those lines. I wanted so bad to like this game, but in the end I had to give up. The game has beautiful art and some awesome music. Its a very dark rpg and has a seemingly (I never got to finish it) interesting storyline. So now let me tell you why this game is flawed. The battle mechanics are slow and boring. I love tactical rpgs but this battle system seemed very basic and slow moving. Along with the battle system the graphics were kind of disappointing, aswell as the voice acting. I would highly recommend finding another game to purchase instead of this one. The PS2 is abundant in rpgs, many of which are greatly better than this one....more info
  • ...well, at least it's pretty.
    I enjoy gothic RPGs immensely, and when Atlus first announced the localization of this title, I was intrigued: intrigued enough to go searching for more information, to find videos of the gameplay, and even to read the reviews of the game that had been posted at Amazon.co.jp. The Japanese reviews were fairly universally negative, running pretty uniformly along the lines of "interesting concept, and very pretty, but poorly executed." However, my tastes run to games that are a bit out of the ordinary, and from what I saw praised in the reviews, I decided that this game would be worth the pre-order, especially since the pre-order package came with a soundtrack disc and artbook extra.

    I must put a disclaimer here before I go further: I haven't actually quite finished any of the storylines; I have come close in one, and explored the other two available upon first starting the game to some extent, and have had ample time to experience the gameplay; but, do take my assessment of things such as plot and character with a coarse grain of salt.

    Now that I've played the game, I have to say that I agree entirely with the Japanese reviews that I read. It does have a nice concept, even if not particularly unique, and it is very pretty. It's also extremely poorly executed. Let's start with the basic gameplay.


    I like the idea of an RPG without "Free Battle," to borrow a term from the Japanese reviews. That is to say, a system where the only battles are those which move you forward in the plot. I don't dislike random encounter-based RPGs, by any stretch, but a game where you only have a set number of fights, and thus a set amount of experience to earn, is an interesting challenge, usually. Eternal Poison, however, suffers from it; I'll explain, but first I should explain more about the mechanics.

    Your world revolves around a single town, which serves as a home base. There are only four places to visit in this town: the bar, where you can play the one mini-game that Eternal Poison has to offer--which is just the Solitaire board game. The bartender, like the other town residents you'll find, has snippets of useless information to tell you, that changes to reflect your position in the plotline. The bar also features the stage of a band, where you can change the background music of the town to any of an extremely limited selection of pieces which this band can play; for each band member you rescue from the depths of the demon-infested wilderness, you obtain one new song that can be played. You can also visit the Majin shop--the monsters in this game are referred to as Majin. Here you can buy Majin to use in your party, or you can sell those that you have captured, which is really the only efficient way to make sufficient money to fund a full party of seven active characters; you can also extract various abilities from the Majin, or points with which you can summon the Majin that you decide to retain to battle: points that you earn much more easily simply killing enemies, making that another pointless option. You could also visit the "Uzaporium," where an elderly Koona (Koonas are the game's "cute" mascot, which are little more than pygmy bears in varicolored scarves) will sell and buy equipment. There is a far greater need to buy weaponry than armor, and you'll find yourself getting new weapons after nearly every fight, while you'll only need to buy new armor once in a blue moon. If you have plenty of money to waste, there are even overpriced accessories with various, mostly useless effects. You can also buy your basic supplies here--recovery items, etc.--but make sure to move these out of storage before leaving town, or you may find yourself in a pinch in battle. The final place to visit is the inn, where, oddly enough, you can't heal--since you're restored to full health automatically after battle. There are a number of things that you can do at the inn, most of which you can also do in the pre-battle menu. The noteworthy features unique to the inn are the ability to read your bestiary of the monsters you've encountered and talk to the refugees (people who you've rescued from the wilds of Besek). The former is made more or less moot by the fact that you can access it (in a more difficult fashion, admittedly) in the Majin shop, as well as having full access to the complete status of any enemy on the field in battle at any time you feel like; while the latter is, for the most part, fairly tedious. Some of the refugees will move on quickly, while some will stay in the inn for quite an extended period of time, with something new to say at you after each battle. Some will give you items or weapons, which tend to become useless after another battle or two. They will also have a few voiced words that will be repeated, to irritating effect, occasionally as you read through what they actually have to say. You can also recruit new party members, who will not appear at all in the story, among the various "mercenaries" gathered in the town. Despite their profession, you don't actually ever have to pay them, and many of them, unsurprisingly, are entirely useless. I'm starting to notice a trend here, are you?

    But enough of town. On to battle. The plot progresses as you make your winding way through Besek--I say winding, but in truth it's actually fairly straightforward. You have some options of which way you want to go at forks in the road, but all roads lead to the same destination, and all with the same number of steps. I haven't tried replaying any of the storylines yet, but I believe that the cutscenes may vary somewhat based on the path you choose; however, I doubt it's in any significant way. You make your way through stages, each stage progressing you farther into the heart of Besek. Each stage is composed of one battle, and you can't repeat any stages, or go backwards in any way. In other words, the game is about as linear as you could possibly imagine. Before starting each stage, you can set your party up, take a look at the topography, and see the mission requirements, which are virtually always "kill all enemies/the boss, and if the main character dies you lose." The last part isn't much of a problem since the main character of each storyline is the most unbalanced in any party, making him/her the most useful character you have, which means that he/she will probably end up getting the most experience, making him/her that much more useful, thereby enforcing the cycle. By the end, unless you deliberately spend time making sure this doesn't happen, your non-story characters will be completely useless. It seems to be better to simply not use any from the get-go, so that your main party members can get as much experience as possible (since there's only so much to be had, after all).

    After you're done setting up, you can start the battle, which will lead to a cutscene, where angst will occur. More of that when I get to plot. You cannot skip the cutscene, so the only thing you can do if you've already seen it is mash the X button to speed through the dialogue until it's over. After the cutscene, you start the actual battle. Usually you'll start with some further dialogue between the characters and the Majin, and you'll occasionally get more snippets of dialogue as turns progress. Battle itself, at least if you fight more defensively, as I tend to, is very long and drawn-out. It's a tactics RPG, of course, meaning that you'll be progressing across the field in order to defeat your enemies. The best way to win is to target one or two Majin at a time, and throw all your characters at it/them, hoping that you don't take any casualties, since there's no way to revive a character in battle. This can be a fairly long, drawn out process when most of the Majin on the field have better stats all-around than the majority of your characters, and since they typically won't start moving toward you unless they can attack you immediately after moving. This strategy tends to drag battles out for quite a while, which, except for taking a long time in real time, isn't actually all that bad, with one exception: if you don't reach some boss characters within a set number of turns, they'll decide you aren't worth their time, run away, and then the battle will be over; this is very, very annoying for a defensive player. Spells and abilities, rather than using skill or magic points, have a set number of uses per battle, which are impossible to replenish until after the battle is complete. The experience distribution is actually decently even, with offensive mage-type units and range-type units both being able to accrue roughly as much experience as brawlers, making the units that can use both good magic and fight effectively at close quarters the best; the only type of unit that suffers from a lack of experience are support mage-types, though even they can make experience every time they use a spell. The system in general is solid, but generic, for a tactics RPG. Aside from capturing defeated Majin (which, thanks to the Overkill system, which sometimes requires that you deal a very considerable amount of damage in your final blow to the enemy, can be trying), and the ability to summon them to battle (which is generally useless, since your main characters level faster than your captured majin can keep up), there's really not much that stands out. The most interesting feature is that on the main character's turn, any characters who didn't act in their previous turn can be commanded to act during that turn, without pushing their next turn back at all, and without usurping the main character's turn, which can be used for strategy of an actually fair depth. All in all, if you play defensively, you can expect each battle to take a minimum of an hour, without the ability to save, making gameplay tedious, and leaving the plot feeling short in comparison, while eating up a lot of time.

    Oh, one last note: there's a feature which will show you a mini-cutscene, in 3D graphics, your character performing whatever action you command him to immediately after doing so. These are repetitive, and take an absurd amount of time to load. Turn this feature off in the options menu to save yourself some tedium after seeing it the first few times. It's kinda cool up until the hundred-thousandth time you see your character poke an enemy with his sword.

    So, in overview, what you'll be doing in the game is this: Go to town, sell your Majin/extract abilities from them, buy new equipment, sell old equipment, talk to your refugees, leave town, prepare for battle, watch a cutscene, start battle, slowly make your way across the field to kill and capture enemies, and then go back to town again. The gameplay is extremely repetitive, to the point where random encounters would actually be a reprieve. I can spend two or more hours at a time doing nothing but leveling in Persona 3, but I can't do more than a battle at a time in this game without getting really bored.



    On to something more positive: the graphics and music.

    The art is really quite nice; all the artists are very skilled, I like most of their art styles, and they, for the most part, make good character designs. One of the artists that I actually follow online contributed to the game, actually. Eternal Poison is, in short, very, very pretty. The computer graphics are wonderfully done, proving that the PS2 still stands up pretty well, and, while the sprites could be somewhat better animated, they, too, are nice. Even the mini-cutscenes of attacks are quite nice, though they are repetitious and take too long to load. The only critical thing I can find to say about the game, graphically, is that, in the fully rendered 3D cutscenes, the way that female faces come across is creepy, even where it isn't supposed to be. I've seen 3D characters with the oversized anime-style eyes that work, but these don't. Otherwise, I have nothing but good things to say about the art in this game.

    The music actually one-ups the art. The soundtrack disc that comes with the game is in fact one of my favorite things to listen to nowadays; it's got a very nicely gothic feel to it, and it's very well executed. It's beautiful where it needs to be, cool where it wants to be, and just overall shows the skill and creativity of the composer. It even fits the style of the world to a T.

    I would recommend getting this game just for the artbook and soundtrack alone, if you could still get both by ordering it new, but the artbook was only included in the pre-order bonus, I believe.


    Finally, plot and characters: There may be some spoilers, so watch out, but I'll be trying to keep those to a minimum, since I haven't actually quite finished any of the storylines yet.

    The plot of all the storylines starts with the sudden appearance of a mythical area called Besek, where Majin, demonic monsters that eat people, wander freely and in great number. Shortly after this, the princess of the kingdom where the story is centered disappears, and the king, in his grief, offers to give anything the rescuer wants to whomever is brave enough to go find the princess. Peculiarly enough, only one of the three main storylines picks up on the disappeared princess as a major plot element from the beginning--Olifen, the commander of the Valdian Knights, betrothed to the princess, and complete wuss leads an absurdly small team (four people, including himself), into Besek without approval to find his fianc¨¦. How romantically trite. The other two parties, one led by a priestess looking for her mentor, who has disappeared into Besek, the other led by a mysterious fourteen year old girl who travels around with a Majin and dresses like a prostitute, seem entirely unconcerned by the news that the only child of the leader of their nation has disappeared into a monster's den. It is said that the "Eternal Poison" (if you think that sounds stupid, it was "Poison Pink" in the original Japanese), an item rumored to be able to grant any desire, is hidden somewhere deep in Besek's heart.

    I've played Olifen's storyline the most, since it seemed to be the worst of the lot, in an effort to get it out of the way first; so I'll be referring primarily to this storyline from here on.

    The characters are, in this storyline, on the annoying side. Olifen is a traditional whiny, self-doubting leader, who is entirely unsuited to lead; this is to say, he's a complete incompetent who panics at the slightest impetus, and who doesn't care a whit about his subordinates. He also seems to think the fastest way to find the princess involves getting his party and himself killed as quickly as possible, rather than taking the time to think. At all. His subordinates include Logue, his best friend and fellow knight, who was far more favored to succeed as commander than poor, bitchy Sir Olifen, until he went to slay a dragon, who was apparently also a majin, and got himself cursed in the process; Marie, a mage, and the only somewhat sensible, level-headed member of the group, who is alway arguing with Olifen because she's twice the man that he is and would probably actually be a semi-competent leader; and Levatte the priest, a cowardly, wet behind the ears kid who is apparently the pope's personal prot¨¦g¨¦ and spy, and is certainly-not-only-traveling-with-Olifen-to-keep-tabs-and-find-the-Eternal-Poison-for-the-Pope.

    As they venture deeper into Besek, the internal strife rises as Olifen becomes more desperate, Logue's curse starts to manifest more clearly, and Levatte cowers in terror every time a Majin comes within fifty yards of him; and the situation becomes ever more confused as what seems to be the Princess snubs Olifen, the King, not nearly so grief-stricken as one previously was led to suppose, plots with the Count whose land Besek appeared in, and a supposedly long-dead hero comes out of nowhere to tell Olifen what a whiny little baby he is. Predictable drama and trite angst ensue.

    What I've seen of the other storylines is significantly better, but still not very good for the most part. The characters are more likeable, but the drama is no less predictable, and the angst no less trite.

    The English voice acting is, for the most part, on the tolerable side of painful; the voice actors themselves aren't bad, but the direction is terrible; and, as with most games, the Japanese voiceovers are unavailable for a comparison.



    To review: the gameplay is solid, but extremely tedious, and the story doesn't help to hold your interest for long. The graphics are good, and the music is amazing, but these alone don't make the game worth buying. If you're a big fan of Tactics RPGs or gothic-inspired worlds, you may like it enough to play it, but for your own sake, rent it before buying....more info
  • Ooh Man, why did I by this?
    OK this game has some good art work, but it doesn't overwhelm you enough to forget about how long and drawn out the battles are. The battle maps are way too big for this style of game. Be prepared to spend 15 to 45 minutes per battle, there is way too much moving around, and the cut scene for every hit sucks. I just got to the point of hitting X as soon as it opened up to skip the attacks. I didn't care how much damage I did or got, it's just way to pointless to have this for every attack.

    There isn't a whole lot of movie cut scenes most of it is like Wild Arms 4 where you have comic book style and a whole lot of dialogue. The few cuts scenes the where animated where fun to watch, very entertaining, but that's just about where the game leaves off. I got very bored of this game right away, and I love strategy games. I went back to playing Star Ocean while I am waiting for another game to come in....more info
  • Awesome!
    This game is addictive. Graphics beautifully done, with multiple stories and side games. Fun!...more info
  • Atlus can do better
    I haven't played much, and I want to play more because I'm intrigued by the way they described the game story as a gothic fairytale. So I want to see if it gets better. But I don't have high hopes and I'm not actually looking forward to playing more.

    (1) Very pretty cut scenes. Very pretty. (But the ones that start it out with the character Thage are also a little creepy because she's very plastic looking and really doesn't emote... at all. And since the PS2 experience has been filled with all sorts of characters with very expressive faces--at least in cut scenes--that's creepy. Maybe it's a quirk of that character, but we'll see.)

    (2) Slow loading times. It's a Final Fantasy Tactics/Disgaea type strategy battle game which is what I expected, but I'd also seen some screen shots that made it look like a more typical slash & hack game. Well. The game starts with a tutorial battle and that made it clear what was going on. It's like FFT, except with 3D battle animations for every attack, including those of the enemy. And the animations don't look that good and there's also a huge lag going into and out of them. Thankfully, they can be turned off. (Some of the lag can probably be blamed on the age of my PS2. It is the original one I bought back when FFX first came out. But somehow, I doubt it's all my machine's fault.)

    (3) Inconsistent pretty. The character art is pretty, but some is in a very different style (they didn't try hard to make all of the artists' work look as finished), and some of the character portraits look awful when I know they shouldn't (in the freebie artbook the same protraits look a lot better). The strategy battles use little 3D characters and honestly, animated sprites would look a lot better.

    (4) Annoying camera. There's three levels of zoom to look at the battle maps. But there's very little difference between the levels. It leaves me frustrated because I want a better look and it should be possible.

    (5) Bad voice acting. Bad, unneccessary, very repetitive voice acting in some places, like the shops. Can be turned off, but I haven't done it yet. Mainly because, how much of it is bad voice acting and how much of it is...

    (6) Bad translation and localization. Very, very stilted dialogue. And right before I quit playing last night, one of the characters became a man for a while. I gasped, thinking I had missed a huge plot point, but after a bunch of "him" dialogue, the next scene had her as a woman again. Either it's really bad translation causing genderflopping OR it's really bad plotting. If it's on purpose, give us more of a clue that it's on purpose, please.

    (7) You can't re-enter battle maps to level up? Well, I'm not 100% certain on this yet. I played for almost four hours, which was the tutorial battle and four other battles (strategy game battles take forever) and was not allowed to re-enter a map yet. Which is annoying, since it asks you "are you sure you want to go here?" when you try to enter a new one, but it's the ONLY one you can enter because you've tried to revisit the others and get nothing but that negative buzzer sound.

    (8) Bad enemy AI. At least at this point, the enemy AI unneccessarily drags out battles because most of the enemies just stand there. You're stuck moving your characters slowly, one at a time across the map because the enemies show no interest in moving towards you until you're very close. Maybe that's supposed to make it easier for low level characters, not getting swamped in a huge attack, but it's also SLOW and BORING. (I like strategy RPGs, they don't have to be slow and boring.)

    Final word: I wish I would have found a used copy of this somewhere. It might be worth having in my collection, but I don't think I'm going to get that much enjoyment out of it....more info
  • First Impression
    As previous reviews have stated this is a very stylish game, but that is where my praise ends. There is a huge flaw in the actual gameplay, which makes wonder who launched this from the editing block. Every time you attack, and I mean -every- little melee attack, the game leaves the battle map to load a cut scene animation. I wouldn't mind this for special moves, but SRPG battles are time-consuming enough with the simple animations taking place on the map. It's distracting, boring, and renders the game unplayable for a person with limited free time. ...more info

 

 
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