Be honest, with a name like Hexyz Force you probably have no idea what Atlus has in store for PSP owners. Is it a fast-paced arcade shooter? Maybe a third-person stop-and-pop action game? Or maybe it's a God of War clone with crazy robots from the future? No, it's none of those. Instead Hexyz Force is (surprise, surprise), a traditional Japanese role-playing game. But don't tune out so fast, because this adventure game has a few special tricks up its sleeve.
Recently I spent some time talking with the development team behind Hexyz Force. With so many great role-playing games already on the PSP, I wondered why I should care about this strangely named import. Atlus wasn't afraid to take the question on, going out of its way to convince me that this RPG was going to keep me glued to my PSP for the next few months (when Atlus' next PSP role-playing game, Persona 3 Portable, is released).
The first thing you need to know is that this adventure game features two completely different characters, each with their own unique story. I'm not talking about one of those games where you're going through the same levels with a different set of sprites. Instead these two adventures feature completely different stories, bosses and locations. What's more, Atlus promises that both games will take at least 25 hours to complete, making this massive game more than 50 hours.
For the most part the questing feels like a lot of other traditional Japanese role-playing games, straight down to the combat and environments. We get 20 minutes of brand new anime, multiple endings, 9 - 10 characters and all of the trappings of a traditional RPG. But not to worry, because this game is being developed by the veteran company, Spike. This is a group that has worked on everything from TurboGrafx-16 games to Final Fantasy ports to the generally well-received Knights in the Nightmare. In other words, they know what they're doing.
Spike has implemented a number of interesting enhancements; all geared towards making the game flow faster and be more accessible. Are you the type of adventure gamer who is sick of random encounters? Hexyz Force has you covered; they completely got rid of them. Better still, the game doesn't even require you to finish a battle before moving on. Gone are the tedious battles, as you now have the option to put everything on auto-pilot and skip through the battle. This will be great for gamers sick of grinding but curious what happens next in the adventure.
While I wasn't able to see much, it was clear that the game's two stories interconnect throughout the quest. What's more, you will be able to affect the other player's story in some rather interesting ways. For example, at one point in the game you will be able to choose a joke or saying that will be repeated throughout both storylines. Apparently these changes will carry over to the next adventure, should you choose to see the second half of the game. It's worth noting that you can choose either storyline from the get-go.
On a technical side, the game looked good and the combat was fast and exciting. Unfortunately the dungeon we were stuck in didn't do much to show off the level of detail in the graphics, but it definitely didn't look like we had anything to worry about from the visuals. Unfortunately the game's only spoken dialog comes from the 20 minutes of cut-scenes, so expect a lot of reading as you dig through this 50+ hour adventure. Hexyz Force also allows you to install the data onto a memory stick or hard drive for faster load times. The game will also be available in the PSN store, which will make the load times even speedier.
With a good number of side quests, multiple endings and more than 50 hours of gameplay, Hexyz Force is shaping up to be a solid title. The game is set for a May 25 release date, with a retail price of $29.99. Even with all of the big role-playing games on the way, Hexyz Force still looks like a solid product at a cheap price. I look forward to digging through both adventures later this month. Look for a full review closer to the game's release date.