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Eldgear Review

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In a move that no one saw coming, possibly a sign of an upcoming apocalypse, KEMCO have released a new game on an unsuspecting world. This is not the shock however – no, the big news is that it isn’t a retro styled JRPG! I’ll give you a moment to get over the shock of reading that sentence…

Eldgear is instead a “tactical strategy RPG set in a fantasy world”, which to be fair could be the description for a lot of games. So, is this brave new direction one that KEMCO should continue to go in on, or are retro styled JRPGs their destiny?

Eldgear review 1
A new KEMCO adventure

Any RPG needs a story, and if it is a good one, so much the better. Here, the news is decent for Eldgear as there is a pretty strong narrative to get to grips with. 

The land of Argenia stands at a crossroads, as the medieval age is about to end; a new age ready to begin. The many nations that crowd the land are about to enter a period of magic based civilisation, and obviously, where there is change, there is conflict. We are agents of a nation called Eldia, and it is our mission to explore ruins and discover artifacts called Gears that can help our cause. We take control of Luc, a knight, and Gal, known as the Dark Emperor, as we try to gain control of the artifacts for ourselves, preventing the other nations from getting their hands on them. What could be easier?

Playing Eldgear took me right back to the days of classic SRPG’s like the original Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics and games of that era. The graphics are very much of the Gameboy Advance kind of style, with nice pixel art graphics, both for the movement phases of the game and the fighting phases too. The design of the characters we control and the enemies we face are both very good, and there is an appealing graphical style overall that makes the game a pleasure to play. 

The main screen we spend most of the time in is a classic grid covered landscape, and while the terrain is quite vertically designed, the action is always clear. Presentation of the actual fights are quite nice as well, as our character and the foes they are facing appear on a narrow strip of land and then we see what effect our attacks have. 

The sound is also pretty good, with nice Japanese voice overs being shouted in the fighting sections, and the rest of battle sounds all being as you would expect. 

Eldgear review 2
Eldgear is all very good

Now, onto the rest of the game and, again, the news here is also very good – on the whole, at least. In fact, one thing to say right off the bat is that the difficulty of Eldgear is right up there with those old SRPGs. It has been a while since I lost my entire team on the second stage of any of these games, but here it happened, taking absolutely no prisoners. Keep in mind, if your strategy is not nailed on, you will lose. Obviously, I’d rather a game be a challenge than a pushover, but I must admit to being surprised by how quickly the difficulty ramps up in Eldgear. 

The actual gameplay is very much the same as any SPRG you may have played. 

When it is our turn, there comes choices to make in terms of moving, attacking, or moving then attacking, with the attack phase finishing your turn. Basically, if you want to reposition your troops, do it first! Once closed in on any enemy, a variety of actions open up – from simple attacks that damage foes, through more complicated strategies that rely on the synergy between the characters. As an example, in the third stage, we are fighting a powerful foe who can pretty much one-hit KO our heroes, so we need to use guile, and paralyse him before we attack. This makes the following fight a lot more survivable, and I’m not going to say how long it took me to happen upon this little trick!

There are other attacks that the team can use too – those of EMA (embedded attacks) and EXA (expanding abilities), both of which can help turn the tide of battle. Also, there is a tension system in place, which means, as the fights go on, our heroes become able to use more powerful attacks as the tension rises. The battle system is very deep and rewarding, and a great deal of fun. 

Of course, any good RPG needs a levelling system, and it is no different here. The system in Eldgear is built around not only learning new skills, but also around upgrading the team equipment. We can also increase hero stats through training, giving them more health or mana points to spend, or increasing their attack, for instance. The slightly odd thing is that the levelling up requires gold, and if you don’t have the funds, you cannot level up; it feels a little different to most RPGs. Choosing where to spend your hard earned gold is an art in itself. 

Eldgear review 3
Have KEMCO hit the jackpot with Eldgear?

So, are there any downsides to Eldgear? Well, only a couple, but they are annoyances more than anything. The main issue is in the tutorial, or rather the lack thereof, leaving you to figure things out for yourself. And further to that, perhaps the difficulty may be too extreme for some. But otherwise, it is plain sailing. 

It means that should you be looking for a KEMCO game that is different to the rest, Eldgear should well be considered. It comes with a great story and is proper challenging. If only there was a more in-depth tutorial…

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Great story
  • Properly challenging, you will need to concentrate
Cons:
  • Tutorial is somewhat lacking
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, KEMCO
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, Switch, PS4, PS5
  • Release date and price - 8 March 2024 | £16.74
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Great story</li> <li>Properly challenging, you will need to concentrate</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Tutorial is somewhat lacking</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, KEMCO</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, Switch, PS4, PS5 <li>Release date and price - 8 March 2024 | £16.74</li> </ul>Eldgear Review
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