Soul Nomad


posted 9/25/2007 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
One Page Platforms: PS2
So NIS and Atlus have both released a Vanillaware title, and in doing so, they have kind of doomed themselves in terms of how a 2-D game looks these days. Let’s face it GrimGrimoire and Odin Sphere looked fabulous, and unfortunately for Soul Nomad, it has to live in the shadow of these other games. At the very least Soul Nomad took from the graphical styling of Disgaea 2, so the characters are larger and slightly more detailed, but they aren’t terribly animated, the move set per character feels fairly limited, while the special attacks are fairly over the top and fun to watch, but they grow stale after a while, thankfully NIS included an option to tone that all down so once you get sick of it, you can turn it off. The game is nice to look at when battles are going on because of all fun and crazy stuff going on during the fight, but for the most part this game is fairly plain looking, and it’s getting to the point where NIS should really start to step it up. I’m getting critical about this now because Disgaea showed up on the scene four years ago, and to see that we haven’t really gone anywhere graphically, it’s becoming a little distressing. Audio is also fairly cut and dry. It’s the NIS standard to include an English and Japanese voice track which is always welcome. Why they included a system voice to notify you of turns and actions is beyond me and to save yourself the trouble I would say just keep it off, and don’t ever bother to turn it off. The Tenpei Sato soundtrack feels a lot less hokey than in previous titles and it’s pretty good, a definite switch up from the swing sounds of something like Makai Kingdom or Disgaea 2. Though it feels somewhat out of place because Soul Nomad doesn’t take itself seriously, so it’s kind of odd to see the music going in the opposite direction and towards a more serious tone.
So it wouldn’t really be an NIS title without a load of stuff to do on the side. Soul Nomad definitely doesn’t fail in this respect. Each room that you build to store your units can be saved if you like their layout, and you can even ‘Inspect’ the room in order to make it more powerful so that you can increase the buffs that the room provides for your party members. You can also add ‘Décor’ to the room which will offer temporary boosts to stats. These last for one battle, which I didn’t initially catch and then I started to wonder why I was doing less damage. It’s kind of a useless hassle to have to go in and change your décor after every battle. Sure some rooms have a permanent décor item, but if the normal user isn’t notified of these rules then odds are they will definitely see this in the same negative light that I do. Thankfully décor is cheap and can be purchased after every battle, and the same goes for some of those nifty items. Being able to adjust décor so frequently does have an advantage though, before every fight you can scout ahead to see what kind of enemies you will be up against or what kind of field the battle will take place on and you can purchase décor that is appropriate.

So Soul Nomad is at a bit of odds with me. I think it’s a fun game and all, and it doesn’t fail on a technical level. It’s just a little uninspired when compared to the previous efforts of NIS where everything felt fun and new. The battle system is a lot of fun, and setting up your units provides for a lot thought and strategy, but beyond that it does not feel like NIS has not really moved forward with their games. The graphics and music have become quite standard and stale, and the game play is fairly straight forward with a few interesting little variants. But that’s all they are, variants. At the very least there are a ton of endings to the game and if you really felt so compelled, you could complete the game in the first twenty minutes or so. Granted it’s a ‘Bad End’ but it’s entertaining nonetheless. So if you’ve been a gamer that constantly has a strategy RPG itch that constantly needs scratching it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. It’s a fun game that is worth the time and money, but before you rush out to the store to pick this up, give GrimGrimoire a shot.

A fun game but a little uninspired in parts. There's a lot to like here but the game is missing that one little thing that would put it over the top.

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